After the opening day of the season victory over Sheffield Wednesday, the Lilywhites have been on the road for the last couple of weeks.
But they finally return to home comforts on Saturday, as they entertain last season’s beaten Play-Off finalists Reading at Deepdale.
After suffering an opening day defeat, a ‘hangover’ from their Wembley defeat may have been suggested by some commentators, but since then Jaap Stam’s men have been unbeaten, with a convincing Carabao Cup win over Gillingham, a draw with Fulham and then an excellent win over Aston Villa on Tuesday night.
After it took a penalty to give North End their first league defeat of the season at Derby County on Tuesday night, manager Alex Neil and his troops will be looking for an immediate reaction when the doors re-open in PR1 on Saturday afternoon.
The Opposition View
Speaking to the Royals’ official website ahead of his team’s trip to Deepdale this weekend, Reading manager Jaap Stam says his team are determined to return to Berkshire with all three points.
The visitors to PR1 come into the match unbeaten in their last three matches in all competitions, picking up their first Championship victory of the season when they defeated big-spending Aston Villa on Tuesday night.
Speaking to readingfc.co.uk the Dutchman said his side would not be taking anything from their result on the Lilywhites’ patch in March.
“We don't look at that result because of last season, 'we lost there so now we need to win', we know and everybody knows that every game, especially away games, are very, very tough,” he said.
“It'll be very hard to beat them, they know how we play. They did last season and they did it very well.
“They're very aggressive going forward, we need to know that they're probably going to be doing that as well. We need to be prepared for that, but we will work very hard for ourselves to get a result.”
And the former Manchester United centre half says his team will do whatever is needed to come out on top: “We want to do that in a certain way of playing, if we can't do that in the way we want to play then we'll do it in a different way.
“That's what we're looking for, and we are warned by what happened last season,” he added.
PNE Team News
Manager Alex Neil is hoping that skipper Greg Cunningham is fit to lead the side against Reading this weekend, having limped off in the closing seconds of Tuesday’s game at Derby County.
The Irish international left back hyper-extended his knee in the clash at Pride Park, but after that game he was described by the gaffer as a ‘warrior’, who added in his pre-match press conference that he was hopeful he would be fully recovered for the clash with Jaap Stam’s men.
Paul Gallagher completed the game against the Rams, but was taken after the game to hospital following a band on the back of his head during the game. The manager has said that his No.12 suffered an element of concussion and whiplash and would continue to be monitored.
Club captain Tom Clarke continues to work hard behind the scenes, now over four months into his recovery period after snapping his Achilles against former club Huddersfield Town at the end of last season.
A number of players will be pushing for a start against the Royals, with Sean Maguire and Daryl Horgan both having impressed as substitutes against Gary Rowett’s men and Josh Harrop also looking for his first start since his summer move from Manchester United, after a pre-season punctuated by injury.
Having been the fourth official on Tuesday night at Derby, Andy Madley takes charge of his first Preston North End game of the season this weekend.
He will be a very familiar figure with the whistle to North End fans, having been in charge of some of our more high profile fixtures down the years.
Last season he was the most seen match official by the Lilywhites, taking charge of five games, but it past best remembered as the man who took charge of our Play-Off Final in 2015 when we overcame Swindon Town 4-0 at Wembley.
In 2014/15, he took charge of three North End games, including the win under the arch, having been the man with the whistle in the first league win of the season, the 4-0 triumph at Scunthorpe United back in August of 2014 and then the live game against Fleetwood Town at Highbury in March 2015, which ended 1-1.
And if you think the name rings a bell, it should. Mr Madley was also in charge of our now memorable Cup win over Blackpool in 2013/14 and then also took charge at Port Vale when North End won 2-0 with ten men.
Last season he oversaw our first league win of the campaign at Queens Park Rangers, the defeat in the League Cup at St James’ Park, the draw at Aston Villa in January, the thumping 5-0 home win over Bristol City and the end of season loss at eventual champions Newcastle United; whilst the previous year he also took charge of the 1-0 win over MK Dons at stadium:mk our first win back in the second tier.
Below are a list of stats about our opponents at Deepdale on Saturday and the particular date of the game we are playing on:
- Although Reading did not make their first league appearance at Deepdale until November 1926, they had previously visited our club for an FA Cup tie in 1894 and it turned out to be something of a mismatch. Whilst we fell well short of equalling our record 26-0 scoreline in the competition set seven years earlier versus Hyde, we still managed to rack up 18 goals without reply against our amateur opponents.
- There were four hat-tricks in the above match, as there were in the 26-0 win against Hyde, and one of them was scored by John Barton, who was the team’s trainer and only played due to an injury crisis!
- We continued our high-scoring trend when league matches commenced 32 years later, with our first seven matches seeing us score 26 times, whilst only conceding six goals, although these games were spread over 51 years. A goalless draw in 1981 was therefore somewhat unexpected on history alone and is the only blank scoreline in 26 games here.
- We have had by far the better of these fixtures to date, with 17 wins, five draws and only four defeats, although two of those defeats have come in the last six games here.
On this date: 19th August
- Saturday marks the 70th birthday of former striker Gerry Ingram and he recorded a classic hat-trick (scoring with his left foot, right foot and head) in our 4-1 home victory over Reading in September 1970. Gerry ended the season as our leading scorer as we won the third division championship under manager Alan Ball.
- Former left-sided midfielder Paul Parry also celebrates his birthday on Saturday (37) whilst Alfie Biggs and Dave Barber made their North End debuts on this date in 1961 in a 4-1 defeat at Luton Town. Alfie scored 24 goals in 49 appearances for North End, but couldn’t settle in the north and returned to Bristol Rovers a year after leaving for Deepdale.
- Our solitary victory on this date was our first home game back at this level, having been promoted in 2000 under David Moyes. We faced Sheffield United, who returned across the Pennines on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline. Michael Appleton and Jon Macken scored in the first six minutes, before Macken’s second after the break sealed the points to make it back-to-back wins at the start of that campaign.
Last Five Clashes At Deepdale
PNE 3 (Barkhuizen, 2; Horgan) Reading 0, 11th March 2017
PNE 1 (Garner, pen) Reading 0, 12th December 2015
PNE 1 (Treacy) Reading 1 (Karacan), 2nd October 2010
PNE 1 (Parkin, pen) Reading 2 (Church, Kebe), 29th September 2009
PNE 2 (Ingimarsson (og), Elliott) Reading 1 (Hunt, pen), 18th October 2008
This is the latest fixture of the new iFollow broadcasts. If you live outside of the UK and Ireland you can sign up to iFollow Premium and watch the game live! Every game that is not shown live on Sky or chosen at the ITN main game on Channel 5, will be available for iFollow Premium subscribers who live outside of the UK and Ireland – you can sign up for a season pass or just one game at a time.
For those in the UK who can’t attend the game will still be able to receive audio commentary of every game as well – and this weekend the audio commentary will be provided from Deepdle by Jonathan Breeze and former North End striker Brett Ormerod.
As well as this, our matchday centre on PNE.Com will be in full flow, as well as all the usual coverage on our social media channels of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can interact with us on any of these channels.
Tuesday night’s test of commentary on our iFollow video will not be in operation this weekend, but will return for a further test against Middlesbrough next weekend ahead of a hopeful permanent launch in September.
Please see our separate articles on match information and ticket details, but for information, normal matchday prices apply, with reduced prices for families in the Sir Tom Finney Stand Family Zone.
Please remember to also use the Invincibles Pavilion ticket office, which can be used to buy tickets for any part of the ground, not just the Pavilion.
Away end tickets will be available on the day, with no increases for matchday purchases. Visiting Reading supporters can buy from the away ticket office next to the Bill Shankly Kop on Lowthorpe Road, with cash and card payments accepted.
For home fans travelling to the game, there is a reminder that Moor Park School car park is no longer available, however, the club are trialling shuttle buses from certain areas, with further details available on the shuttle bus article on the website.