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Preston North End (A) match preview

5 January 2019

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Rovers turn their attentions to Emirates FA Cup action this weekend when they travel to face Sky Bet Championship side Preston North End on Sunday.

Rovers reached the third-round last month following a 2-0 win away at Charlton Athletic thanks to goals from Andy Butler and John Marquis at The Valley.

Preston, meanwhile, enter the competition at this stage, and they will be looking to bounce back following a 2-1 defeat away at Rotherham United on New Year’s Day.

Brief history of Preston North End

Preston play their football at Deepdale, which holds 23,404, with the ground being the club’s home since 1875, with PNE originally founded as a cricket club before a switch to football in 1880.

The ground is widely recognised as being the oldest continuously used football stadium in the world and hosted its first ever game in October 1878. Their nickname is the Lilywhites, which comes from the colour of the shirts in which the side play in.

PNE are also recognised as one of the 12 founding members of the EFL when the league came to fruition in 1888, and they went on to win the inaugural league title, as well as the FA Cup, during the 1888/89 season, winning the cup without conceding a goal throughout the competition. They were the first ever team to complete a league and cup double in English football, and as they did so unbeaten, they were then nicknamed the original Invicibles.

They added to their 1889 FA Cup success with their second, and last, victory in 1938, beating Huddersfield Town 1-0 in the final at Wembley Stadium, with George Mutch scoring the winner from the penalty spot in the 119th minute.

PNE have been in the Championship since 2015, winning promotion via the League One play-offs after a 4-0 win over Swindon Town in the final at the new Wembley, and last season they just missed out on the Championship, finishing seventh in the second tier.

Who’s the gaffer?

Alex Neil is the man in charge of the Lilywhites, having been at the helm since July 2017 after his departure from Norwich City. Neil was also manager at Scottish side Hamilton Academical between 2013 and 2015, and alongside current Rovers man Ali Crawford, he helped the Accies to promotion to the Scottish Premiership via the play-offs in his first full season in charge.

Neil has overseen 78 games during his tenure at Deepdale, winning 29, drawing 25 and losing 24, giving him a win percentage of 37.2 per cent.

Ones to watch

Paul Gallagher

The one-time Scottish international midfielder finally signed his first permanent contract with PNE in 2015 after three previous loan spells from both Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City, with the final one of those temporary switches resulting in promotion from League One. In his first permanent season with PNE, Gallagher picked up the supporters' Player of the Year award at the end of the 2015/16 campaign, as well as collecting the Club's Goal of the Year award for a strike against Charlton Athletic. He has gone on to make well over 200 appearances in a Lilywhites’ shirt across his four spells with the club, and remains a firm fans’ favourite at Deepdale.

Lukas Nmecha

The forward joined on-loan from current Premier League champions Manchester City over the summer, signing a season-long loan deal at Deepdale. Born in Hamburg, Nmecha’s family relocated to England, and the striker has since gone on to represent the Young Lions from under-16 level through to the under-21 side which he currently represents, helping the England U21s to win the Toulon Tournament in 2018. Nmecha made his Premier League debut against West Ham back in April, and scored his first ever first-team goal for Manchester City in pre-season in a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup.

Tom Clarke

The PNE skipper moved to Deepdale in the summer of 2013 following a 17-year association with hometown club Huddersfield Town, making an almost immediate impact after a winning goal in the derby against Blackpool in just his second appearance at Deepdale. With the Terriers, he helped them to promotion from League One via the play-offs in 2012 after a penalty shoot-out victory over Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United at Wembley. It would be a feat Clarke would repeat three years later, this time with the Lilywhites and he was involved in their 4-0 win over Swindon Town to earn a place in the Championship, and he was also named in the PFA Team of the Year for League One at the end of the 2014/15 season.

Who’s the ref?

Andy Davies will be the man in the middle when the two sides meet on Sunday. He has taken charge of 21 games in league and cup competitions so far this season, showing 66 yellow cards whilst brandishing the red card six times.

He last took charge of Rovers all the way back in February 2014, refereeing their Championship clash at home to Middlesbrough, whilst he has already taken charge of PNE this season, being the man in the middle for their 2-2 draw with Bolton back in September at Deepdale.

Davies will be joined by assistant referees Adam Crysell and Billy Smallwood, with Barry Lamb being named as the fourth official.

Last time out

March 2015 was the last time these two sides met at Deepdale, with late drama seeing both sides come away with a point in a dramatic finish. Daniel Johnson put the Lilywhites ahead on 13 minutes, but it wouldn’t be until the final 10 minutes where the game would come alive.

Harry Forrester drew Rovers level on 81 minutes, before Curtis Main struck three minutes later to turn the game on its head, before Jermaine Beckford levelled in the final minute to earn PNE a point at the death.

Rovers last win at Deepdale came during their 2012/13 League One title-winning season, coming out on top in a 3-0 win at the end of December 2012. David Syers got Rovers up and running inside the opening minute, before a stunning free-kick from David Cotterill on the half-hour mark.

Billy Paynter sealed things from the penalty spot 14 minutes from time to ensure that Rovers would finish the year in third.

Rovers return to the Keepmoat Stadium to take on Burton Albion on Saturday January 19, tickets available from the Club Doncaster Box Office, either by visiting in-store at the Keepmoat Stadium, by calling on 01302 762576, or online at tickets.clubdoncaster.co.uk.


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