You could say that North End are due a home win against Middlesbrough! It has been almost 50 years (1972) since our last one!
Admittedly, that has only been seven league games, plus a couple of league cup ties and an FA Cup fixture, but let’s put it this way, the last time we won, the win was only worth two points and not three!
Last season’s two clashes with Boro were both against Jonathan Woodgate-selected sides, so this is our first game against Neil Warnock’s side, who have been in fine form so far this season, challenging at the top end of the table.
Neither side have had too many changes in their ranks since that last meeting, at new year, but with injuries, managerial changes and Covid, there is plenty that has changed and it will be an interesting game where both sides will believe they can come out on top.
Competition: EFL Sky Bet Championship (17/46)
Date: Wednesday 9th December, kick-off 7pm
Kit: 2020/21 home kit – click here to buy it now!
Head To Head: PNE wins – 30; Draws – 26; Middlesbrough - 45
Manager Alex Neil is without Ben Pearson (ankle), Patrick Bauer (Achilles), Andrew Hughes, Paul Gallagher and Jos Earl (all hamstring), Billy Bodin and Louis Moult (both knee) for Wednesday’s visit of Boro, whilst Daniel Johnson is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Wycombe at the weekend.
Darnell Fisher is available again after sitting out the last three games through suspension and his involvement could allow Alan Browne to move back into midfield, with Pearson’s absence through the injury he picked up half an hour into the clash with Gareth Ainsworth’s men.
Neil Warnock could recall Duncan Watmore, whose last midweek brace against Swansea City was not enough to earn him another start at Stoke City at the weekend, with George Saville returning to a three-man Boro midfield.
Having switched to a back three against the Swans, Warnock reverted to a back four at the bet365 Stadium, Marcus Tavernier and Marvin Johnson providing the visitors width, supporting Chuba Akpom who retained his place ahead of Britt Assombalonga up front.
With the exception of Saville for Watmore, the Boro bench remained the same, with U23 stars Isaiah Jones and Sam Folarin both included in the 20-man squad.
It’s 18 months since we last saw him, but Wednesday night’s match official is a familiar face; it is now Premier League referee Andy Madley.
Before his promotion to the Select Group One list in the summer of 2019, Madley was a regular officiating the Lilywhites five time in his last season regularly refereeing at this level.
Those games included the 4-1 win over local rivals Blackburn Rovers in November, our 4-1 win at Queens Park Rangers and the victory over Bolton Wanderers at the University of Bolton Stadium in February.
He has been in charge of some of the Lilywhites’ best moments over the years, most notably the League One Play-Off Final in the 2014/15 season, where a Jermaine Beckford hat-trick led to a convincing 4-0 over Swindon Town at Wembley.
He was also the referee for our Capital One Cup victory over rivals Blackpool in the 2013/14 season. Tom Clarke netted the winner three minutes from time to secure a famous 1-0 win over our rivals.
So far this season, Andy – who is now on both the UEFA and FIFA lists, having officiated Europa League and Nations League games this campaign - has refereed 11 games in all competitions, issuing 27 yellow cards and just one red card.
He will be assisted by Edward Smart and Adrian Holmes, with another Ollie Yates as the fourth official.
North End fans can watch Wednesday’s game live on iFollow PNE, with purchases of a £10 match pass available now.
Jonathan Breeze and former North End skipper Paul McKenna are on commentary duties, with replays, graphics and coverage from the Deepdale from approximately 6.30pm on Wednesday evening.
Alex Neil: “We Know What’s Coming”: Preston North End manager Alex Neil expected experienced opposite number Neil Warnock to make his Middlesbrough side a force this season and that has proved to be the case so far. Click here for the full interview.
A Match To Remember: You could say the Lilywhites were due a home win over Middlesbrough; the last one came on Easter Monday 1972! Click here for the details of the game we have covered.
Tom Barkhuizen Feeling Fresh: Preston North End’s joint top scorer Tom Barkhuizen grabbed his fourth goal in five games at the weekend. Click here for Tom’s thoughts.
The One And Only Issue Nine: Full back Joe Rafferty is the cover star of Wednesday night’s edition of the matchday programme for the clash with Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough. Click here for more information.