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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Tuesday, March 6th 2018

Big Match Preview: Preston North End

City will be hoping to pick up where they left off, following their 4-0 demolition of Sheffield Wednesday in their last Sky Bet Championship outing.

But the Robins have not beaten tonight's opponents since 2011 and will be out to ensure no repeat of the 5-0 drubbing they suffered the last time they visited Deepdale.

Both sides are flying high in the Sky Bet Championship this season: City are fighting to stay in the play-off positions, while Preston North End are hot on their heels as the race for the top six hots up.

Can City get revenge following the 2-1 defeat at Ashton Gate back in November?

FACTFILE

Formed: 1880
Nickname: Lilywhites / Invincibles
Website: www.pcfc.net
Twitter: @PNEFC
Ground: Deepdale
Capacity: 23,404

Honours:
First Division: 1888/89 (first team to go season unbeaten) and 1889/90
Second Division: 1903/04, 1912/13, 1950/51
Third Division1970/71, 1999/00. Play off winner in 2014/15.
Fourth Division: Fourth Division winner (League Two): 1995/96
FA Cup winners: 1889 (did not concede a goal), 1938.

Last season:
Championship: 11th
FA Cup: Third round, lost to Arsenal
EFL Cup: Fourth round lost to Newcastle United
Top scorer:  Jordan Hugill (13 all comps)
Average attendance: 12,606

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

The Lilywhites are one of just a handful of clubs to have conquered all four tiers of the English Football League (EFL).

They famously went on to become the first ever football team to go an entire league campaign unbeaten (1888/89) – a feat matched only once, by Arsenal in 2003/04.

Although a different game in the 1880s, Preston’s footballing achievement was perhaps made more spectacular as they went on to lift the FA Cup in the same season, without conceding a single goal.

Fast forward 130 years and their honours list has grown but not as much as they would have liked in recent years; their last major achievement being promotion back into the Championship in 2015, via a Wembley showdown against Swindon Town (4-0).

They completed their recent rise into England’s second tier at the same time as City, but have enjoyed higher finishes in the division (11th in 2016 and 2017) than the Robins.

Now with just two months of the campaign remaining, City have kept themselves in the promotion places with Preston just three points behind - the Championship looks to be as tightly contested than ever.

Preston boss Alex Neil

MEET THE GAFFER - ALEX NEIL

Neil retired as a professional footballer just two years ago, after a 16-year career with four clubs.

He spent the majority of those years – a decade – with Hamilton Academical where the midfielder scored six goals in more than 240 appearances. He enjoyed promotion success, helping Hamilton back into the Scottish Premiership, both as a player and in his first season as manager in 2013/14.

He joined Norwich City as Canaries boss in January 2015 and led them to both Premier League promotion and relegation. After his sacking, he joined Preston North End in July.

Tom Barkhuizen

STAR MAN - TOM BARKHUIZEN

The Preston forward is the man with the goals this season, following Jordan Hugill's departure, with four of his eight goals so far this season having come in every other game since the end of January.

He can also boast the highest number of assists (six) and man of the match performances (six) for his club in the current campaign too.

The versatile forward began life at Blackpool, before joining Morecombe via loan spells with Hereford and Fleetwood. After a season-and-a-half at the Globe Arena, he moved to Deepdale in January 2017.

City's Lee Trundle rounds the Preston keeper

MEMORABLE MEETING - MAY 4th 2008

Bristol City 3-0 Preston North End

Championship

Goals: Lee Trundle 8, Michael McIndoe 16, David Noble 51

City clinched the play-offs with a 3-0 Ashton Gate victory against Preston North End. Lee Trundle fired Gary Johnson’s side ahead, before he turned supplier for Michael McIndoe. The damage was done inside the first 45 minutes but David Noble added the icing on the cake early into the second half.

City went on to defeat Crystal Palace en route to the Wembley final, where it was heartbreak at the hands of Hull City.

AND FINALLY...

Officials
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Billy Smallwood and Philip Dermott
Fourth Official: David Webb

Betting (via SkyBet) - odds correct as of 12.10pm, March 5th 2018
Preston 5/4
Draw 11/5
City 9/4

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