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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

20 January 2021 Venue St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - Championship

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Match Previews

Birmingham City Match Preview

18 January 2021

Preston North End travel to Birmingham City on Wednesday night looking for three points from their second away game in a row.

First Team News

Watch Birmingham City vs PNE Only On iFollow PNE

18 January 2021

With the away game in the FA Cup, by the time they return to Deepdale on Sunday, it will be more than three weeks since a home game and Alex Neil’s side will be looking to head back to PR1 with another three points on the road.

A Sean Maguire goal mid-way through the first half was enough to give PNE the win on their last trip to St Andrews, whilst this will be their first of two visits there in the second half of this season, with Coventry City also still to play at the end of April.

This the 99th game between the two sides in all competitions, with North End looking to extend their lead in the overall head-to-head, with 39 wins to the host’s 36.

Match Information
Competition: EFL Sky Bet Championship (25/46)
Date: Wednesday 20th January, kick-off 7.45pm
Venue: St Andrews
Kit: 2020/21 third ‘green’ kit – click here to buy it now!
Head To Head: PNE wins – 39; Draws – 23; Birmingham City - 36

Team News
Manager Alex Neil has no new injury concerns ahead of Wednesday’s trip to the second city, with plenty of options to choose from.

The gaffer revealed that he would have Billy Bodin back out on the grass for the first time since his operation this week, but he will now need time to get up to full fitness, leaving just long-term casualties, Louis Moult, Patrick Bauer and Declan Rudd sidelined.

Birmingham City boss Aitor Karanka made five changes to his side for their weekend win over Middlesbrough and seems unlikely to alter their successful 4-2-3-1 approach to that game.

However, he does have plenty of options if he chooses to change it, with match winner Scott Hogan having Lukas Jutkiewicz and Jonathan Leko as potential replacements if the Spaniard chooses to rotate his frontmen.


Match Officials
It’s Tony Harrington’s third game in charge of PNE this season on Wednesday night, having also refereed the reverse fixture back in October.

Despite the trio of games in 2020/21, he took charge of just one game last season, the home game with Gary Rowett’s Millwall at Deepdale, but in 2018/19 he took charge of three PNE games, the March trip to Reading, the 2-0 cup win at Leeds United back in August 2018 and the home game against West Bromwich Albion that autumn.

Tony has been a familiar face over recent seasons. In 2017/18 he visited Deepdale twice,
the Lilywhites’ opening day 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in Alex Neil’s first competitive game in charge of the club, and our Bank Holiday Monday clash with Derby County.

The previous season he also took charge of another two North End games, the 1-1 draw away at Nottingham Forest and the thrilling 4-2 win over Brentford at Deepdale.

The match official, who is now in his tenth year on the EFL list, has also been to PR1 on a number of previous occasions in the past, including the 2014/15 penalty win against Oldham Athletic in the JPT and the club’s last two home league games against Notts County, including a 2-0 win over the Magpies at Deepdale in February 2014.

This will be the Cleveland referee’s 19 game of the season and so far he had issued 47 cautions and two red cards, including Joe Rafferty in PNE’s clash with Blackburn Rovers and astonishingly it will be his fifth Blues game of the season and his fourth trip to St Andrews already!

He will be joined by assistants Phil Dermott and Rob Smith, whilst experienced Championship referee Jeremy Simpson will be the fourth official.

Match Coverage
North End fans can watch Wednesday’s game live on iFollow PNE, with purchases of a £10 match pass available now.

Guy Clarke and former North End defender Michael Jackson are on commentary duties, with replays, graphics and coverage from St Andrews from approximately 7.15pm on Wednesday evening.

Click here now to sign up for a match pass

Linked Stories
Alex Neil On Blues Clash: Preston North End manager Alex Neil is hoping his side can pick up two good results this week leading into a run of free midweeks for the first time this season. Click here for the full interview.

A Match To Remember: This latest look back to a previous fixture against our next opponent sees us head back to September 2017 when the Lilywhites came back from an early setback to end Harry Redknapp's spell as Blues boss. Click here for the details.

Andrew Hughes Pleased With Trust Of Manager: Preston North End defender Andrew Hughes says that recently being handed the captain’s role for a game was the proudest moment of his time at the club so far. Click here for Andrew’s thoughts.

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Match Reports

Birmingham City 0 Preston North End 1

20 January 2021

Scott Sinclair’s eighth goal of the season gave the Lilywhites a superb 1-0 win over Birmingham City at St Andrews in torrential conditions.

Manager Alex Neil made four changes from the trip to Bristol City, with Jayson Molumby getting his first league start and skipper Alan Browne playing at right back.

And the green-clad Lilywhites started brightly, coming out of the blocks quickly, Ryan Ledson sending Emil Riis – two of the four additions to the starting line-up – down the right hand side, with a clear tactic to try and use the Dane’s pace to get in behind; the U21 international winning an early corner on that occasion.

The game began amidst torrential rain, which lasted for the first half hour, making the judgement of passes difficult and many of them – from both sides – skipped on in those early stages, away from their intended targets.

North End’s captain went close to opening the scoring just after the first half’s mid-point. It was a superb and pacey counter from a Blues corner, as Brad Potts released Browne down the left, with a 60-yard lung-busting run, before checking in to the left corner of the penalty area and curling an effort that beat Neil Etheridge, but curled just past the right stanchion.

Daniel Iversen made an excellent stop to keep it goalless on the half hour mark. Ivan Sanchez cut in from the home side’s right and drilled a low shot from 15 yards, but a strong hand from the Leicester City loanee pushed it away to safety.

The rain rolled back in for the second half, after a let up for the last few minutes of the opening period.

And on 49 minutes the opener was an inch away. This time the run in behind was timed perfectly as Riis broke down the right and found an excellent pass inside for Potts who drilled a low shot that beat the keeper, but came back off the inside of the right-hand post.

And within seconds Potts again went close as from the resulting clearance, Sinclair picked up the ball on half way before driving at the Birmingham defence and finding the No.44 on the edge of the ‘D’, who danced right and drilled a low shot that Etheridge make a superb one-handed stop to tip around the post.

It was a blistering start to the second half, but didn’t bring with it the goal it deserved for PNE – another chance coming on 17 minutes as Potts found Sinclair’s run in behind, Etheridge coming out to superbly smother at the feet of the Lilywhites’ top scorer.

A double change on the hour mark from Aitor Karanka saw two forwards on for the home side, switching to what looked like a 4-4-2 for the remainder of the game, to try and stop the momentum the visitors had built up in the early stages of the second half.

But the goal finally came for North End seconds late. It started with Ben Whiteman, who fired the ball into Sinclair on half-way, who flicked the ball to release Molumby who drove 40 yards to the edge of the area, before sliding the ball back to Sinclair on his outside right and the No.31 drilled the ball back across goal into the bottom left corner for his eight goal of the season, seven coming on the road.

Another double swap from Karanka saw Gary Gardner and Alen Hililovic on for Jeremie Bela and Ivan Sanchez to try and turn the tide of the game with 17 minutes left.

Tom Barkhuizen replaced the North End goalscorer with just over ten minutes to go, adding a different level of threat with his pace up against George Friend down City’s left-hand side.

Somehow the officials found seven minutes of stoppage time, much to the astonishment of the North End bench, as the rain got even worse, monsoon conditions at St Andrews in the closing stages, but despite some late home pressure the full-time whistle brought first win of 2021 for the Lilywhites.

Birmingham City line-up: Etheridge, Colin, Friend, Kieftenbeld, Hogan (Jutkiewicz, 60), Bela (Gardner, 73), Dean (c), Sanchez (Halilovic, 73), San Jose, Toral (Leko, 60), Sunjic. Subs not used: Trueman, Pedersen, Roberts, Clayton, Dacres-Cogley.

PNE line-up: Iversen, Browne (c), Hughes, Whiteman, Huntington, Davies, Potts, Ledson, Riis, Molumby (Johnson, 86), Sinclair (Barkhuizen, 78). Subs not used: Ripley, Fisher, Earl, Bayliss, Gallagher, Rafferty, Evans.

Referee: Mr T Harrington

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