A bumper derby day at Ewood for PNE

Joe Garner and Alan Browne jump with Corry Evans during PNE's meeting with Blackburn at Deepdale in November
Joe Garner and Alan Browne jump with Corry Evans during PNE's meeting with Blackburn at Deepdale in November
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Preston North End are preparing to mobilise their largest away support for nearly 16 years when they play Lancashire rivals Blackburn next month.

Tickets for the April 2 clash at Ewood Park went sale at Deepdale on Wednesday.

The Lilywhites have been allocated 6,963 tickets in the Darwen End.

If all those are sold, it will be their biggest following – bar play-off finals – since April 2000 when 7,000 PNE fans made the trip to Wigan in the Second Division title-winning campaign.

The trip to Rovers, which kicks off at 12.30pm, has been eagerly anticipated by North End followers since returning to the Championship.

It is the first visit there since January 2001 and matches between the sides have been few and far between over the years.

This will be only the sixth meeting between Rovers and PNE since 1997.

The visitors’ last victory in the league at Ewood Park came in March 1979 when Alex Bruce scored a superb winner.

Tickets for the clash have gone straight on general sale, priced £27 for adults, £22 for Over-65s and Under-22s and £9 for Under-18s.

The lower tier is being sold first and then tickets for the smaller upper tier will be released.

North End have another derby clash before facing Rovers – they make the trip to Bolton Wanderers a week on Saturday.

Their 4,300 allocation for the Macron Stadium sold out in a matter of days.

Preston fans are staging their annual Gentry Day at Bolton.

The away support has been good this season, and has grown in recent months.

So far, the biggest following was a sold-out 2,399 for the 2-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor on December 5.

On Boxing Day, 2,228 went to Huddersfield, with 1,933 travelling to Craven Cottage for November’s 1-1 draw with Fulham.

Last month, 1,504 made the trip to Wolves, with followings of more than 1,000 going to Hull, MK Dons, Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers.

The biggest away following at Deepdale this season was Sheffield Wednesday’s 5,701 last month.

Blackburn brought 5,486 for their 2-1 win in November.

Middlesbrough, Bolton and Derby County all had more than 3,000 fans in the Bill Shankly Kop, with Wolves bringing 2,477 and Huddersfield 2,245.

The visits of Burnley and Leeds in April and May respectively, are certain to attract big followings

Charlton’s 245 following last Tuesday was the lowest 
away support at Deepdale this term.

Promotion-chasing Brighton are likely to be backed by a decent support on Saturday.

They have won their last two games 4-0 against Bristol City and Leeds to put them right back in the race for automatic promotion with Burnley, Hull and Middlesbrough.

The Seagulls tore through Leeds on Monday night – they were four goals to the good by the 38th minute.

In October, North End drew 0-0 with Brighton at the Amex Stadium, which was part of a six-game unbeaten run.