Preston Preview - Away, Jan 12th
Preston North End. Five hours away and bottom of the league - have fun those who are going, it should have been me, but unfortunately, education gets in the way!
With the best away form in the division, this should be a thrashing, so quite honestly I`m jealous of those I know who are going. With a defence as frail as theirs and a frontline as lacking in goals, this could be the romp The 'Orns have been threatening for weeks…
If truth be told, PNE have never gotten over the Summer sales of David Nugent and right back Graham Alexander to Lancastrian rivals, Burnley. Although less high profile, Alexander was the mainstay of the Lilywhites defence and club captain to boot.
Nugent of course we all know about, other than Pompey fans that is! Having been plucked from the obscurity of Bury, Nugent banged the ball in the net like a man possessed and even found time to notch against the Horns in the game that did for Ray Lewington.
Up top this season have been Neil Mellor, one-time Liverpool legend with a last-minute winner versus Arsenal a few years back. Since then his career has sadly gone downhill and in two years at Deepdale, he`s managed just three goals.
Former strike partner Patrick Aygemang has left to join the Italian revolution at Q.P.R leaving Paul Gallagher, Brett Ormerod and Karl Hawley to share the goal-scoring burden with the Ghanian. Unfortunately, Hawley has the best record of those three with just two. Formerly of Carlisle, Hawley has never struggled for goals with 47 league strikes in 112 strikes for the Cumbrians.
At the back, much of Preston`s solid defence under Billy Davies has been taken apart and new gaffer Alan Irvine has struggled to solve their problems. Youl Mawene, Matt Hill and Sean St Ledger look solid enough on paper, but have been less than impressive. The loss of Claude Davis last year, couple with Tye Mears and Graham Alexander looks to have seriously weakened the whites defence.
John Halls looks an astute signing, on paper however, having signed on-loan today. The former Stoke, Reading and Arsenal hardman will go straight into Irvine`s squad for Saturday and could get that right back berth as his own.
In midfield, Richard Chaplow has joined from promotion chasing WBA after less than 60 appearances in the few years he`s spent at the Hawthorns. Throw Billy Jones, Kevin Nicholls and Darren Carter into that midfield, and it looks Championship winning class. At least, we wouldn`t say no to a couple of those names!
Paul McKenna, new club captain lends his experience, but has been hindered by promotion, whilst Simon Whaley has been the only player to shine at North End this season. The tricky winger saw off Scunny in the cup last weekend with a neat dribble and finish. With 3 league goals in 12 starts, it`s easy to see why he is integral to Irvine. Another Bury export, Whaley has racked up 98 career league starts in his 23 years on the planet.
So, by my calculations, PNE strikers have more goals this season than Steve Kabba will notch in two liftetimes!
Lee; Doyley, Jackson, Demerit, Stewart; Smith, Francis, Williamson, McAnuff; King and Henderson.
Lonergon; Chilvers, Mawene, Davidson, Hill; Whaley, Carter, McKenna, Neal; Mellor and Hawley.
Come on you 'Ornsss!