The Big Match Preview: - Preston North End (A)
Preston North End were beaten play-off semi-finalists last season, losing to the eventually promoted side Rotherham United. Under the management of Simon Grayson, the Lilywhites are always tipped to be one of the frontrunners in the division and there is a general feeling that won’t be any different this time round. Prior to the season opener in August, North End were earmarked as one of the favourites for the title by most bookmakers alongside the likes of Bristol City, Peterborough United and Sheffield United and everyone concerned with the football club will surely be expecting to be in the promotion shake-up come May for a place in the Championship.
Ins and Outs
Preston made some excellent summer acquisitions as they prepared for the 2014-15 season. Paul Gallagher arrived on loan from Premier League side Leicester City to add to the firepower. Also brought in to the forward ranks at Deepdale; Andy Little from Rangers, Callum Robinson on loan from Aston Villa and Jordan Hugill from Port Vale. Leyton Orient’s first choice stopper from last season, Jamie Jones joined the club as well as former Huddersfield Town full back Calum Woods. To cap the summer signings, former Bantams favourite wing man Kyel Reid agreed to a move to Deepdale after departing Valley Parade.
To coincide with these signings, Preston let a number of players leave including three to League 2 side Burton Albion; the trio includes Australian defender Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, former Stevenage midfielder John Mousinho and finally frontman Stuart Beavon. Nicky Wroe completed a move to Notts County, Chris Beardsley returned to former club Stevenage with Irish forward Graham Cummins moving to Exeter City. Iain Hume also departed Deepdale, moving to Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters, a side managed by former England goalkeeper David James and captained by Michael Chopra.
Current League Position
Second in League One is the current League position of North End going into the weekend’s clash with The Bantams. They are five points behind leaders Bristol City and two clear of third placed Swindon Town.
Preston are likely to welcome back leading scorer Joe Garner after he was rested from the mid-week FA Cup 1st round victory at Havant & Waterlooville. Scott Wiseman is away on international duty with Gibraltar as they face a daunting trip to World Champions Germany. Jordan Hugill is out with a knee injury with Calum Woods and Andy Little are also expected to miss out with calf injuries.
James Hanson continues to be a doubt for the trip to Preston with a thigh concern but having trained well this week he could return to the side at Deepdale. Fellow frontman Jon Stead is a doubt with a groin strain and Gary Liddle continues to be a doubt with a hamstring injury having missed the last two matches but he could pass late fitness tests to return to the side.
Last Meetings with Preston North End:
The last time we faced Preston was at The Coral Windows Stadium in January and the game finished goalless. The main talking point in that game was the red cards issued to Kyle Bennett, who was making his debut for the club on loan from Doncaster, and Neil Kilkenny after an altercation in the centre circle.
The reverse fixture in October last year was also a draw but it was a much more entertaining one, finishing 2-2. James Hanson headed the visitors into a 5th minute lead but one time City loanee Tom Clarke equalised for his side before the break. Bailey Wright gave Preston the lead in the 68th minute but Rory McArdle’s headed equaliser 5 minutes later gave The Bantams a share of the spoils.
Preston North End’s Recent Form
10/11/14 | Havant & Waterlooville 0-3 Preston North End | FA Cup 1st Round | W
04/11/14 | Swindon Town 1-0 Preston North End | League One | L
01/11/14 | Rochdale 3-0 Preston North End | League One | L
28/10/14 | Leyton Orient 0-2 Preston North End | League One | W
25/10/14 | Preston North End 3-2 Fleetwood Town | W
North End’s top goal scorer so far this season with 10 league goals already to his name, Garner is one of the leading marksmen in the division and caught the eye with a wonder strike live on television in the play-offs against Rotherham United last season. Born in Blackburn, he began his career with Blackburn Rovers in 2005 after coming through the club’s academy but failed to feature for the first team and following a loan spell at Carlisle United in 2007, he moved to the club on a permanent basis later that year.
He scored 14 league goals during the 2007-08 season leading to a 2008 move to Nottingham Forest but Garner wasn’t a regular for Forest and during just over 2 seasons with the club he made only 48 league appearances, scoring 9 times. Following loan spells at Huddersfield Town and Scunthorpe United, he moved to Watford in 2011 but again it was a spell which didn’t really work out for him. During 2 years at Vicarage Road he made only 24 league appearance, scoring just the one goal and after a successful loan spell with former club Carlisle United, he moved to Preston in January 2013 and he has found some great form for the Lancashire club.
Ref Watch – Andy Haines
Referee Andy Haines who comes from Tyne & Wear, will be the man in charge at Deepdale this Saturday afternoon. He has refereed 10 games so far this season, his latest of those, Bury’s 3-1 FA Cup 1st round victory over Hemel Hempstead last weekend. Haines refereed two Bradford games last season, both of which were impressive victories for the Bantams. The last one was the 1-0 home victory against Peterborough United in April with Adam Reach netting the winner with a stunning free-kick, and the other was City’s 4-0 demolition of Brentford in September last year with goals from James Hanson (2), Nahki Wells and Garry Thompson.
Sky Bet’s odds for the game are as follows, with them having City as massive underdogs to come away with anything at Deepdale. Preston are hotly tipped to continue their impressive home run with a victory this weekend.
Preston – 4/6
Draw – 14/5
Bradford – 4/1