Billy is PNE’s bogeyman

Forest boss Billy Davies
Forest boss Billy Davies
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It is seven-and-a-half years since Billy Davies cleared his desk in the Preston North End manager’s office and left for pastures new.

But his name was still the first thing on the lips of Preston supporters when the draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup pitched North End with Nottingham Forest, who Davies is managing for a second time.

The Lilywhites head to the City Ground on Friday night as underdogs, with their hosts a division higher and well placed in the Championship promotion mix.

If they are to cause an upset, then PNE will have to reverse the general trend of results against Davies-managed teams.

In eight games against Derby County and Forest since 2006 when the Scotsman upped sticks, North End’s record is won one, drawn two and lost five.

However, PNE boss Simon Grayson’s men need not have an inferiority complex heading into the clash on the banks of the River Trent.

They have faced three sides from the Championship this season and got the better of two of them.

Blackpool were beaten in the Capital One Cup at the start of the campaign, before Burnley knocked PNE out in the second round.

Friday’s meeting was set up by a 3-2 replay victory over an Ipswich side who they held to 1-1 draw in the first game at Portman Road.

On their own patch, Forest look a difficult proposition, their route to this round being a 5-0 hammering of West Ham earlier in the month.

Davies was at Preston for four years, the first half of that spell being as No.2 to Craig Brown.

When Brown was sacked in late August 2004, his assistant was handed the caretaker’s jacket for a month before getting the job full time.

He brought in David ‘Ned’ Kelly as his assistant and together they set about turning North End into a play-off competing side.

The team steadily improved and then slipped into top gear, losing only twice in the second half of the 2004/05 campaign.

Davies’ side got the better of Derby over two legs in the play-off semi-final, setting up a meeting with West Ham in the final at the Millennium Stadium.

Neither side played well on the day, but the Hammers edged it with Bobby Zamora netting the winner.

After a slow start to the next season, another strong second half saw Preston reach the play-offs again.

This time they fell at the semi-final stage, drawing 1-1 with Leeds at Elland Road before losing the second leg 2-0.

That dramatic night when the floodlights failed for a time was to be Davies’ last stand at Deepdale. Three weeks later he quit his job in order to take over at Derby.

PNE’s path crossed with Davies at Pride Park four months after his exit, their visit ending in a 1-1 draw.

Many in the away end that afternoon vented their spleen in his direction, as to the manner of his departure.

Derby were to win the return fixture in Preston on New Year’s Day 2007, that result forming part of their push for the Premier League – they clinched promotion in the play-off final, beating West Bromwich Albion at Wembley.

Davies left Derby during the following season as the Rams struggled badly in the top flight. He returned to management in January 2009 along the A52 at Forest.

North End’s first meeting with him as City Ground boss saw them beaten 2-1.

The following season, they lost 3-0 on Forest turf, former PNE skipper Paul McKenna scoring one of the goals.

That was to be Alan Irvine’s penultimate game in charge of Preston.

Irvine’s successor Darren Ferguson oversaw victory over Forest later that season, North End winning 3-2 at home after racing into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Ross Wallace, Callum Davidson and Matty James.

In the 2010/11 campaign, the sides met three times with two different PNE managers in the dugout.

Fergie Jnr was at the helm when Forest won 2-1 at Deepdale.

Davies found himself linked with a return to Preston when Ferguson got the bullet.

It was Phil Brown who got the job instead, and his first game in charge was against Forest in the FA Cup.

North End led through a Darren Carter goal but the visitors battled back to win 2-1.

Two months later, Brown took his side to the City Ground and they earned a creditable 2-2 draw.

Barry Nicholson put them in front but again Forest came back and looked to have won it when they went in front with a 90th-minute goal.

But then up popped PNE’s Billy Jones at the other end to head a dramatic equaliser deep into stoppage-time.

Davies left Forest at the end of that season, sacked after losing in the play-offs for a second successive year.

But he was back 20 months later following a change of ownership at the club.

Forest are fifth in the Championship at the moment, fresh from a 4-1 win over Blackburn at the weekend.

Davies is eyeing a dip into the transfer market during the January window to aid a push towards the top flight and get the job done.