Category Archives: Preston North End

Midweek Championship round up

Reading missed the chance to extend their lead at the top to six points after a second straight defeat. Second placed Swansea drew with Brentford meaning Reading still have a three point lead. Bristol City and Cardiff bonce back from weekend losses with wins. Wycombe make it two wins in two and Prestons impressive away form continues as they make it four wins from five.

Tuesdays Action

Swansea traveled to Brentford, the side that beat them in last seasons play-offs.

The Swans started brightly with Kyle Naughton and Andre Ayew testing the Bees Keeper David Raya. Brentford, however, took the lead in the 32nd minute as Ivan Toney turned in Mathias Jensens cross from close range. Swansea leveled through Ayew, who turned in Matt Grimes’ cross inside the six yard box. Swansea sit second after an impressive start whilst last years play-off finalists sit in tenth.

Swansea boss Steve Cooper thought his side deserved to win the game telling the BBC:

“We thought that we were comfortable in the game and Freddie (Woodman) didn’t have a save to make all game. Their keeper made two world class saves in the early stages.

“You wish after a performance like that coming here that it would have been three points instead of one”.

Thomas Frank told BBC Radio London:

“We didn’t play particularly well in the second half, but neither did Swansea. There was a lot of back and forth, but with their goal, we need to defend better”.

Bristol City, meanwhile, are back to winning ways after five games without one, coming from behind at Huddersfield Town. Josh Koroma gave the home side the lead two minutes from the break.

City turned the game around in the second half with goals from Jay Dasilva and Jamie Paterson. Huddersfield sit 15th in the table whilst Bristol City sit outside the play-off places on goal difference. This was a good time for Bristol to regain some form as they head to south Wales on Friday for the Severnside Derby.

Their host’s on Friday also got a win on Tuesday as Cardiff responded to Neil Harris’ criticism of them after Saturday loss to QPR. Neil Harris switched to a 4-4-2 starting with Kieffer Moore and Robert Glatzel. Junior Hoilett gave the Bluebirds the lead after four minutes skillfully bringing down Joe Bennett’s cross. Joe Ralls added a second just before the break from the spot after Harry Wilson was brought down. Wilson added a third on 77 minutes with a stunning left footed strike from outside the box. Cardiff move to 13th and Barnsley are 18th.

Sheffield Wednesday ended Bournemouth’s unbeaten start with a 1-0 victory at Hillsborough. The goal came from the spot after Josh Windass skipped around Begovic but was brought down by Steve Cook. Cook also saw a red card for the challenge. Barry Bannan calmly put the spot kick home. Wednesday held on to win despite Kadeem Harris being sent off for a rash tackle in stoppage time.

Norwich City were unable to break Millwall’s defence at Carrow Road as Millwall get a vital away point.

Przemysław Płacheta saw his effort just before half time smash the upright. Emiliano Buendia saw his effort saved by Millwall keeper Bialkowski. Norwich boss Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Norfolk:

“We created an unbelievable amount of chances with lots of possession close to the opponent’s box. We had 27 chances today. Can’t complain too much, the only thing we can criticise is our responsibility to finish”.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough made it nine unbeaten as they drew at Blackburn 0-0.

Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray told BBC Radio Lancashire:

“Let’s hope there are not many games like that the rest of the season. It wasn’t nice to watch, I didn’t enjoy it. Lets take the point put it in the bank and move on”.

Neil Warnock told BBC Tees:

“The only regret was not getting three points but that’s the Championship, if you don’t win you’ve got to make sure you come away with a point”.

Wednesday’s Action

Another away win for Preston as they beat leaders Reading by three goals. Despite a missed penalty from Daniel Johnson two goals in four minutes from Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis followed by a Brad Potts goal in stoppage time gave Preston their fourth away win.

A high ball into the box was clearly chested down by Sinclair and slotted into the goal despite Reading appeals for offside. A quick counter saw Preston double their lead Emil Riis reaching a long ball and sliding his shot under the advancing keeper. Another quick break from Preston saw Tom Barkhuizen get behind Readings defence. His squared ball into the box was met by Potts who put the ball into the top corner.

Reading head coach Veljko Paunovic said after the game:

“I’m not disappointed but I feel the pain. When you lose a game, you have to absorb it. That’s what I’ve told the players.

You have to bounce back and convert the pain into a positive energy for the next game”.

Preston boss Alex Neil said:

“This seems to be quite common for us on the road. We’ve been excellent on the road”.

A five goal thriller at Vicarage Road as Watford beat Stoke City. Stoke took the lead after 2 minutes, Steven Fletcher finishing a training ground corner.

Watford equalised after 28 minutes Tom Cleverley finishing off a lovely piece of passing play from Watford. Cleverley’s shot came off the bar and the ground to be collected by the keeper, after a brief wait the ref gave the goal after receiving a signal form the Goal Decision System.

Joao Pedro’s gave the lead to Watford after Sarr was brought down by Stoke Keeper Angus Gunn. Nick Powell leveled for Stoke with a right footed strike from the edge of the box on 81 minutes. But Watford weren’t done as Sarr found the net three minutes into added time.

Wycombe made it three unbeaten with a 2-1 win at St Andrews. Despite going behind to a Marc Roberts goal just before the break. A late second half fight back with Scott Kashket leveling the game on 75 minutes and an own goal in injury time from Kristian Pedersen. Wycombe after severn points in three games are not just a point of Coventry and getting out of the relegation zone.

Coventry lost out on a point to a 96 minute Lyle Taylor penalty as they lost to Forest 2-1. Scott Mckenna had given Forest the lead before Callum O’Hare squared things up. This was Forests first win in five and they sit 20th in the table. Derby lost again at Pride Park as QPR scored a late winner for the second game running. After a 91 minute winner on Saturday, Macauley Bonne’s late header gave QPR another three points. Luton picked up a good win away at Rotherham 1-0 with a goal from James Collins.

Another busy weekend of Championship action as Friday sees the Serevenside Derby between Cardiff City and Bristol City. Leaders Reading host Stoke in Saturdays early kick off, whilst Norwich v Swansea should be a cracker of a game.

Preston V Cardiff City Preview

Sunday’s early Championship fixture is between Preston North End and Cardiff City. Both clubs have four points from their opening four games prior to the international break.

Preston come into this match after a fantastic 4-2 win away at Brentford, while Cardiff held a free scoring Blackburn at Ewood Park last time out. Preston currently sit in 14th place whilst Cardiff are 16th.

Last season’s fixture saw the Bluebirds win 3-1 as they made a run into the playoffs. Historically, however, Deepdale has not been a happy hunting ground. Cardiff having lost by three goals in 2017,2016, 2010 as well as a 6-0 defeat in 2009. The latter resulting in the swing in goal difference that allowed Preston to beat Cardiff to the Play-offs.

Team News

For Preston Alan Browne is unlikely after being in close contact with with an ireland teammate who has tested positive for Covid-19. Browne has given a negative test but under current rules must still isolate for 10 days.

Preston Manager Alex Neil told Lancaster News:

“I presume at the moment that alan won’t be available, but I’m not quite sure. We need to take medical advice although we’ve already had some discussion with the doctor”.

Browne was forced to miss both of Irelands Nations League games this week.

There was, however, better news for midfielder Daniel Johnson:

“DJ to be fair was making good progress just before the international break. But he’d only trained once or twice with us before the Brentford game which wasn’t quite enough. He trained with us on Tuesday this week and hopefully will do so for the remainder of the week”.

Cardiff, meanwhile, will be without playmaker Lee Tomlin who is suspended after his red card at Blackburn. Joe Ralls will most likely play just behind the striker for Cardiff after returning from injury in the Blackburn game.

Kieffer Moore limped off during Wales’ game v England, but did play in the game against Ireland.

Speaking to Wales Online, Cardiff manager Neil Harris said:

“Kieffer’s come back to us. Fortunately he’s healing well, so has a good chance for the weekend”.

Another problem for Harris is the fitness of full back Joe Bennett who had to come off at Blackburn after just 13 minutes:

“Joe Bennett came off with a hamstring, so we have to keep an eye on that. We’ll have to wait and see”.

Key Players

Scott Sinclair has enjoyed a really good start to the season with three goals in four games. The winger who will know Cardiff well having been a former Swansea City player will be desperate to make it four goals. a wide player who likes to get into the box, he will be a handful for the Cardiff defence.

For the Bluebirds, Joe Ralls will need to be the creative force and push forward to support Moore. Cardiff forwards have often looked isolated this season so Ralls will need to be quick to support Moore when Cardiff play direct. He has the passing ability to open up the Preston defence and if Kieffer Moore can get into good spaces they can be a real threat. Preston will also have to watch out for his set piece play.

Where to Watch

This game is being shown live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 11:30 with a 12:00 kick off.

Prediction: Preston North End 1 – 1 Cardiff City

Two teams who have started slow and unlikely to change this weekend. Cardiff will be the happier side with a point away from home.

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

Joe Lolley Forest require penalties to see off eight-man Mansfield to reach the EFL Football Manager Quarter-Finals

The last 16 of the Virtual EFL Football Manager Cup certainly delivered up its fair share of drama this past week.

The round featured a classic Championship versus League Two tie between Nottingham Forest and Mansfield Town. Following the game virtual manager Joe Lolley said:

“Well if that’s not repeated on sky sports classics for the next 20 years there is no justice.”

Indeed, Lolley’s Nottingham Forest side had to overcome the spirited effort from Jamie King’s Mansfield Town. The League Two side went ahead twice but their discipline certainly proved problematic as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

In extra time Forest had as many as three goals ruled out before ultimately coming through on penalties against FM content creator King’s troops.

A remarkable hat-trick from Birmingham City’s centre back Harlee Dean meanwhile saw the Lee Camp’s blues progress to the last eight at the expense of Luton Town in another thrilling 3-2 Championship clash.

Following his side’s victory, virtual manager Camp said:

“We took the game to them, took the lead like we did last week and controlled the game.  They had a couple of moments but it’s cup football and you expect the opposition to come out and ask you questions but overall I thought we managed the game very well.”

Elsewhere, Brentford and Preston North End emerged victorious from their respective local derby matches against Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers.

Sam Jaques’s Brentford side ultimately emerged with a 3-1 victory over their fellow Londoners, while Tom Barkhuizen rounded off Preston’s 2-0 victory over their Lancashire rivals.

There were also wins for Fulham, Huddersfield Town, Swansea City and Middlesborough  who complete the line up for the last eight.

Who do you fancy to go all the way?

Don’t forget that throughout the tournament you can donate on the JustGive page to Mind UK. #haveyourmatesback.

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/TheEFLFootballManagerCup

Carabao Cup: Round One Draw Announced

The Carabao Cup Round One draw was made on Thursday evening from Morrisons, Colindale, North West London.

There were two stand out ties from the draw with AFC Wimbledon playing MK Dons, while newly-promoted Salford City will face Leeds United.

The draw was conducted by two former England internationals in John Barnes and Ray Parlour and was split into two regions – North and South.

Huddersfield Town, the hightest-ranked team in the Northern Section, will face Lincoln City while the highest ranked Southern side, West Bromwich Albion, will face Millwall.

Every club from Sky Bet League One and League Two enter the Carabao Cup in Round One, along with 22 Championship clubs.

Only Cardiff City and Fulham – who finished 18th and 19th respectively in the Premier League last season, will enter in Round Two, alongside the clubs from the Premier League, not in European competitions.

The first round matches are scheduled to take place week commencing Monday 12thAugust, with the final due to take place on March 1, 2020.

Full Round One Draw can be seen below:

North Draw

Tranmere Rovers v Hull City

Grimsby Town v Doncaster Rovers

Wigan Athletic v Stoke City

Port Vale v Burton Albion

Nottingham Forest v Fleetwood Town

Bradford City v Preston North End

Blackpool v Macclesfield Town

Blackburn Rovers v Oldham Athletic

Mansfield Town v Morecambe

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland

Scunthorpe United v Derby County

Rochdale v Bolton Wanderers

Huddersfield Town v Lincoln City

Middlesbrough v Crewe Alexandra

Shrewsbury Town v Rotherham United

Sheffield Wednesday v Bury

Salford City v Leeds United

Barnsley v Carlisle United

South Draw

Colchester United v Swindon Town

AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons

Oxford United v Peterborough United

Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City

Plymouth Argyle v Leyton Orient

Wycombe Wanderers v Reading

Charlton Athletic v Forest Green Rovers

Gillingham v Newport County

Stevenage v Southend United

Luton Town v Ipswich Town

Walsall v Crawley Town

Bristol Rovers v Cheltenham Town

Brentford v Cambridge United

Coventry City v Exeter City

Swansea City v Northampton Town