With Brighton & Hove Albion’s opponents for the 2015/16 Championship season now confirmed, the club’s media team will take a look at the Seagulls’ 23 opponents for the next campaign.
The 18th team to feature in our opposition focus series is Preston North End.
LEAGUE POSITION: 3rd (League One)
FA CUP: Fifth round
LEAGUE CUP: Second round
TOP GOALSCORER: Joe Garner (27)
JOHNSTONE’S PAINT TROPHY: Northern Area Final
2014/15 SEASON REVIEW
Preston North End enjoyed a superb 2014/15 season which culminated in the Lancashire side securing promotion back to the second tier of football after a four-year absence.
It was the first time in 10 attempts that the club had managed to secure promotion via the play-offs, as Simon Grayson’s side finished third in League One with 89 points.
The Lilywhites made a solid start to the season with three wins from their opening five games, before going on a run of eight consecutive victories during September and October to move within two points of eventual champions Bristol City.
By the New Year, Grayson’s team had progressed to the FA Cup third round following victories over Havant & Waterlooville and Shrewsbury, and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Final.
But following an impressive 2-0 win over Championship high-flyers Norwich City in the FA Cup, Preston went seven games without a victory. The run saw the side slip seven points adrift of the automatic promotion places.
An impressive run in the FA Cup was ended with a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in round five, before North End went 16 games without a loss. This sequence of results saw the side occupy the second automatic promotion place, but they were pipped by Milton Keynes Dons after a 1-0 defeat to Colchester United.
There would be no play-off agony for Preston on this occasion though, as Chesterfield were dispatched 4-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals ahead of a 4-0 win over Swindon Town in the final.
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LAST TIME WE MET:
Albion put in a defensively resolute display to claim a point against play-off chasing Preston at Withdean.
Goalkeeper Wayne Henderson was called into action on several occasions to deny David Nugent and Danny Dichio, while Claude Davis also came close to breaking the deadlock with a fierce strike.
Alex Frutos had a chance to secure all three points for the Seagulls late on, but he scuffed his shot.
Albion line-up: Henderson; Hinshelwood, Butters, Lynch (Hart 45), El-Abd, McShane; Hammond, Carpenter, Carole, Frutos (Loft 89); Kazim-Richards.
Subs not used: Martin (GK), Mayo, Gatting.
Preston line-up: Nash; Davidson, Davis, Mawene, Alexander, Mears; Jarrett, Sedgwick (Whaley 72), McKenna; Nugent (Ormerod 82), Dichio (Agyemang 72).
Subs not used: Hill, Neal.
After a playing career taking in spells in the Premier League with Leicester City, Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, Simon Grayson took his first steps into coaching at Blackpool.
The 45-year-old began by coaching the reserve team before taking the manager’s job on a permanent basis ahead of the 2006/07 season, following a caretaker spell in charge of the Tangerines.
Grayson led Blackpool to the Championship that season with a 2-0 win over Yeovil Town in the League One Play-Off Final and kept the Seasiders in the division in 2007/08.
The Yorkshireman left Blackpool for boyhood club Leeds United in December 2008 and took the Elland Road outfit into the play-offs in his first season. Promotion to the Championship was secured in 2009/10 after a second-place finish.
Leeds finished seventh in the Championship in 2010/11 which turned out to be Grayson’s final full season in charge. He was sacked in February 2012.
Grayson moved to local rivals Huddersfield Town that month and led the Terriers into the Championship following victory over Sheffield United in the play-off final. His time in the hotseat ended halfway through the 2012/13 campaign after Huddersfield went 12 games without a win.
Preston appointed Grayson as their new manager in February 2013 and he subsequently led the club into the Championship last season.
Preston will be entering their first season in the Championship for four years with real confidence, after free-scoring pair Paul Gallagher and Joe Garner both committed their futures to the club.
Garner was the top scorer in League One last season with 27 goals and is being tipped to help consolidate North End’s position in the second tier next term.
The permanent signing of a proven striker at Championship level, Jermaine Beckford, is also a huge boost to Simon Grayson’s preparations for the new season after the 31-year-old netted 18 goals in 31 appearances while on loan from Bolton Wanderers in 2014/15.
With consolidation being the first objective, having this sort of firepower should be enough to propel Preston away from the bottom three.
See Albion v Preston North End at the Amex plus 22 other opponents from as low as £20.22 per game by purchasing a season ticket for 2015/16.