Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Date: Saturday 27th February 2016, 3pm K.O.
City return to South Wales after Tuesday’s trip to Middlesbrough, to face a Preston North End side on a good run of form.
After gaining promotion back to the Championship last season following a four-season absence, theLilywhites have risen to the challenge, and are currently the highest-placed team out of the three promoted clubs. North End sit in 9th spot, one place and one point behind the Bluebirds, following a good run of late, which has seen them win their last four matches.
After masterminding their resounding Play-Off Final victory last May, boss Simon Grayson dipped into the January market to further strengthen his squad. The club purchased two promising Manchester United youngsters, with Ben Pearson and Liam Grimshaw moving to Deepdale from Old Trafford. The Lilywhites also brought in ex-United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard on a loan deal from West Brom, and added attacker Callum Robinson from Aston Villa, until the end of the season.
A consistent defence has helped Preston rise up the table, despite them having three first-choice goalkeepers this term. Loanees Sam Johnstone and Jordan Pickford helped move the Lancashire club out of the relegation area, before current stopper Lindegaard’s arrival. Only Middlesbrough and Hull have got more than North End’s fourteen clean sheets. Daniel Johnson is the club’s top scorer with 8 League goals, but hasn’t scored since December. Conveniently, the resurgence of last year’s League One top scorer Joe Garner in the New Year has propelled Preston into the top half; the striker has got 5 goals so far this season, and has netted in back-to-back games ahead of our clash on Saturday.
After signing for the Bluebirds last year, striker Eoin Doyle has spent the 15/16 campaign on loan at Deepdale. The Irishman has played twenty times so far, netting two goals. Current Cardiff forward Anthony Pilkington started his youth career at North End way back in 2003, before moving to Manchester United’s youth setup the following year.
Another striker who has played for both clubs is target-man Jon Parkin. ‘The Beast’ spent three and a half years at Deepdale, scoring 31 goals, before moving to Cardiff in January 2011. After a spectacular volley on his debut at Norwich City, Jon made 15 appearances for the Bluebirds, before going on to play for Fleetwood Town and Forest Green Rovers.
Paul Parry is another man to have moved between both Clubs, making 91 appearances for the Lilywhites after his five years with the Bluebirds. Meanwhile, former Cardiff boss Dave Jones, who managed the club from 2005 until 2011, played for Preston back in the early 1980’s. He spent the last season of his career at Deepdale in 1983/84 before retiring at the end of the campaign. Jones then went on to become a manager, spending time in charge of Southampton, Wolves, Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday.
Preston North End 0 – 1 Cardiff City
Deepdale, 25th April 2011, Championship
Peter Whittingham grabbed the only goal of this match, which kept Cardiff in the hunt for promotion, and sent North End down to League One.
Whitts’ strike came 6 minutes into the match. Craig Bellamy broke the offside trap, running through on goal before squaring back to Whittingham, who put the Bluebirds in front with an easy tap-in.
With automatic promotion still a possibility, City dominated the first half, in search of another goal. However, some poor finishing mixed with an excellent performance from goalkeeper Iain Turner kept the score at 1-0.
The hosts tried to steal a goal in the second period, but couldn’t break down the Bluebirds defence, and Crystal Palace’s victory against Leeds condemned Phil Brown’s men to their first relegation in 18 years.
Preston North End: Turner, Morgan, Jones, Cort (Barton 58'), Nicholson, Treacy, Ashbee, Carter, Brown, Hume (Russell 34'), Ellington (Hayes 73').
Subs not used: Lonergan, Wright, Devine, Proctor.
Cardiff City: Heaton, McNaughton (Hudson 47'), Keinan, Quinn, Samuel Whittingham McPhail Burke Olofinjana, Bothroyd, Bellamy (Chopra 72')
Subs not used: Brown, Blake, Rae, Koumas, Parkin.
Watch Whitts' nutmeg to set up Michael Chopra against Preston North End in 2007 below!