Manager Graham Westley has called on the fans to make sure they win the battle off the pitch on Saturday to inspire his team to do the same on it.
The Lilywhites face the 2012 beaten League One Play-Off finalists at Deepdale, in a 3pm kick-off, and the North End gaffer was thoroughly looking forward to it when he spoke to the Club’s official website at Queen’s Drive Primary School in Fulwood, as part of a community visit for the One Game, One Community weeks of action.
“It’s mouth-watering from our point of view,” he said. “The boys, the management, the Club, we are all looking forward to it.
“This season it has been a tough place for teams to come through. Championship sides like Huddersfield and Palace have pitched up and got beaten and if you look at their form in the Championship, you don’t get sides like that getting dominated for no reason. They got dominated because our players took them to task, used our pitch well, used our environment well and the fans were brilliant in supporting the team.
“I know Deepdale will become the fortress that it can be and this is exactly the type of game to really take the Club onto another level again.”
The Blades can count a number of former North End favourites in their ranks, but the manager believes that rather than a benefit to Danny Wilson’s men it can prove a hindrance.
“In many respects that works as a disadvantage because when you know a place, you know just how tough it is to visit,” he continued. “You generally don’t underestimate it and you appreciate that with the backing that we get and the passion of the fans, it is a difficult place to go.
“I went to Notts County on Wednesday night and I heard the Sheffield fans bellowing out their song. They dominated the Notts County environment; it was their song that was getting sung before the start of the game and before the second half, but I can tell you that on Saturday it will not be their song that is getting sung before kick-off or the second half, it is our environment, our place, our home and that’s a place where we intend to dominate.
“We are not here to come second in any regard and I know our fan base will treat seriously its responsibilities to making Deepdale the fortress that it has always has been and we need to get it back to.”
He also feels there is a growing sense of a ‘team’ at North End, both on and off the field: “There has been a unity and a togetherness building and I think everybody can see that the players want to do well.
“The players are slowly but surely finding their way as Preston players; they look much more confident in their environment. Performances have been up and down and they always will be, but we just have to make sure that the bottom level is raised and the top level is raised. If we can get our performance level above where we’ve been so far, we are going to be playing some great football this year and if we raise the bottom level – which will happen by nature of the tactical selections that I make, as I pick teams going forward and know more about the players and combinations that do and don’t work – there will be stunning performances ahead of us.
“I am looking forward to the weekend with a real sense of excitement. Not optimism, excitement, because I know it is not going to be an easy game to win.
Ambassadors are reminded that they can get an additional half price ticket for this fixture either in person or over the phone from the ticket office before 6pm on Friday evening.
“Danny brought his side to my place last season and we had to play very very well to beat them, but we did play very well and we got a resounding victory and this weekend we are going to have to play very very well again to win, but we are going into it with the determination that we take the three points and push on up the league.”
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