Kicking off PNE’s Championship preview is Middlesbrough who travel to Deepdale on the opening day of the 2015/16 season.
Aitor Karanka’s side impressed for the majority of the season and looked a decent bet to end their six-year absence from the top flight, but eventually fell short of automatic finishing four points off second-placed Watford.
Overcoming Brentford in the semi-finals kept the dream alive, but a 2-0 defeat to the Canaries, a day after North End secured promotion at the same venue meant they’d be playing another season in the Championship.
Boro fans will be holding their breath on whether last season’s top scorer Patrick Bamford will be re-joining the club after his loan from Chelsea expired – and with a number of Premier League club’s interested in the youngster, whether Bamford will be kicking off the season against the Lilywhites remains to be seen.
Head to Head
You only have to go as far back as last season for the last time these two sides battled it out – that game being particularly special for one man in particular.
Two months after signing for the club, Boro born and bred Jordan Hugill scored his first goal for the Lilywhites against his boyhood club, cancelling out Lee Tomlin’s strike just before the hour mark.
But that’s as good as it got for the Lilywhites in that game, with Tomlin sending the North-East outfit in front 10 minutes later, before Bradley Fewster rounded off the goals to send Boro into the next round of the Capital One Cup with a 3-1 score line.
The Riverside stadium celebrates its 20th Anniversary since it was first opened this year, and although Boro fans would have hoped their ground would be staging Premier League football this season, their home became a fortress last year with the Boro losing just three home games all campaign – with two of those coming in the first month of the season.
The Preston North End faithful will make the 121 mile trip up north to the 34,000 seater stadium on the 9th April.
Played for Both
A host of players have represented both clubs throughout the years in football, with the likes of Sean St Ledger, Carlo Nash and Nobby Stiles spending time in Teeside and Lancashire.
Other players include Gary Parkinson, Michael Ricketts and Kelham O’Hanlon. More poignantly, Mick Baxter who was part of Preston’s promotion side of 1978 also played for Middlesbrough before his tragic death in 1989 at the age of 32.