It’s here: the most anticipated fixture in the calendar of ‘Pool and PKE – the Lancashire derby. Forget your Burnley’s, this is the one we want!
The talking has to stop, the keyboards need to breathe from the battering they’ve taken this week, and let the expectancy begin. Remember that day last December, soaked to the bone singing on Lowthorpe Road after a certain Wes Hoolahan had given Blackpool their first win over the arch enemy since 1999? I remember looking around at the hundreds of tangerine fans on that road, and thinking what a day it was to be a seasider. 11 months on the passion still flies as it did that day, and there is no reason for Simon Grayson’s men to not repeat the trick of Deepdale at home this time in front of a sell out crowd.
There are similarities to last year in the run up to the game; Preston have lost seven out of the last ten games this campaign, compared to only winning two out of ten in the comparative fixtures last year.
Both teams sit in mid table of The Championship, seperated by just one goal. The winner is likely to break into the top 10 of the division whilst the loser could be just three points off relegation – so the game clearly has something else to fight for other than local pride.
But it is argued that local pride is the most important component to the derby. We’ll both win and lose other games this season, but to be defeated by the team your boss at work, or your grandad supports doesn’t bare thinking about. Personally, I’ve got an uncle, cousin and ‘mates’ (loose term, don’t worry) to banter with leading to the game, and they certainly got it in the neck from me last Christmas as Wesley chipped that famous penalty down the middle to send the tangerine machine populating the Bill ‘Preston Legend’ Shankly Kop into raptures.
Hopefully it’ll be the Stanley Mortensen Kop where the celebrations will be come Sunday afternoon.
Richard Chaplow has been bigging the game up in the press, and had this to say:
‘I can’t wait and all the boys know how much the game means to our supporters, so we’ll give it our very best shot,
‘We want to give our fans the bragging rights, and we can do that.
‘Although I didn’t play at Blackpool, I was at the game and fully understand what this fixture is all about to our fans.
‘I know what to expect on Sunday and I want to try to make it a special one for Preston.
‘The conditions could be difficult, with the ground open to the elements and the part that windy conditions could play in the game.
‘However, we’ll just have to deal with that and make sure Blackpool don’t hurt us.
‘It will be intense, intimidating, and fiercely contested, but hopefully we can get the ball down, let our passing do the talking and our quality will shine through.
‘I love the derby games and although it is a healthy rivalry, let’s hope there’s no trouble off the pitch.’
Blackpool Team News:
Stephen Crainey, Stephen McPhee, Daniel Nardiello and Jermaine Wright are all still long term absentees.
David Vaughan has to be close to being dropped after a number of average performances, which has come in turn with Adam Hammill’s up turn in form. However, it’s likely that Vaughan will get another chance to prove himself. The same goes for Keith Southern and Claus Jorgensen.
Player to watch: Ben Burgess
The big striker has such a key role to play in the game on Sunday.
Preston are extremely vunerable to high balls into their penalty box, and this could see big Ben proving pivitol into which way the game goes.
PNE Team News:
The Knobbers have a close to fully fit squad to choose from.
Probable line up: Lonergan, St. Ledger, Mawene, Wayne Brown, Davidson, Chaplow, McKenna, Jones, Wallace, Chris Brown, Elliott,
Player to watch: Ross Wallace
The on loan Sunderland wide man could prove key if PKE are to get anything from the game. Shaun Barker could be in for a long afternoon if he’s not on top of his game.
Match Facts & Stats
It needs no introducing – the fixture is the 90th between the two sides.
Preston’s last win at Bloomfield Road was in 1992.
Mike Dean – please don’t ruin the game!
Wolves v Blackpool;
Saturday 22nd November 2008;