Boundary boys stand in PNE’s way

Ex-PNE loan man Jonathan Forte (left) has scored 12 goals this season

Ex-PNE loan man Jonathan Forte (left) has scored 12 goals this season

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Hard-to-beat Oldham Athletic will provide a sizeable obstacle for Preston North End this evening in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

The two teams meet at the area quarter-final stage of the competition at Boundary Park.

And North End know they will have to be on top form if they are to progress to the next stage.

The Latics are currently going well in League One and sit in eighth place in the table – just two points off the 
play-off places.

Only league leaders Bristol City have lost fewer games this season in League One and Lee Johnson’s men have tasted defeat just once in 
their previous 10 league games.

One positive for Preston heading into tonight’s clash is that they are one of the three teams to gain a victory over Oldham so far during this campaign.

It was back in August when an early Jack King goal gave North End a 1-0 victory at Deepdale.

However, PNE assistant manager Glynn Snodin believes that result will have no bearing on tonight’s encounter.

“That was a very tough game and it was good to get the win,” Snodin said.

“But tonight is another game – you can never compare the two.

“Oldham are a good, confident side at the moment.

“If everybody in their team is working together as a unit, they will be a difficult team to beat.

“We have just got make sure we do what we did on Saturday at Bristol City.

“The work-rate was fantastic and if we do that, then we will be a hard team to beat.”

Snodin has pinpointed a number of players who his men will have to keep a close eye on tonight.

Former PNE loan man Jonathan Forte has been in a rich vein of form in front of goal since arriving at the club during the summer.

He has found the back of the net 12 times from 17 appearances.

Danny Philliskirk is also a big threat.

But the Latics will be without on-loan Daniel Johnson – who is cup-tied, having played in the competition with Chesterfield this season.

And Jabo Ibehre is suspended having been sent off on Saturday in the 1-1 draw against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

“I think Jonathan Forte is a threat up top for them,” Snodin said. “They have got Danny Philliskirk as well.

“But I know Daniel Johnson, who is on loan from Aston Villa, is cup tied. He’s a good player.

“They play the diamond formation but they will have make one or two changes because Ibehre got sent off at the weekend.”

Latics boss Lee Johnson admits he would love to take his team to Wembley, and will ensure his players are full focused for tonight’s encounter.

“At this moment the club mindset is definitely one of Wembley – wouldn’t it be great to take everyone down there?

“In my opinion. this club needs something like that to help galvanise it a bit more, so we want to produce tonight.

“It¹s a tough game but with the right attitude and the right tempo to our play, we’ve got a good chance of getting a result.

“The players have got to have that dream of going to Wembley because if you don’t have that, what’s the point playing the game?

“Our supporters were fantastic again on Saturday at Bramall Lane. They were in really good spirits and never stopped singing.

“I think they enjoyed the players’ performance, and consequently the lads responded on what was a big stage for them.

“Both clubs will feel they’ve got a chance of progressing but it will be difficult for both teams.”

Although both Johnson and Ibehre are sidelined tonight, Johnson will welcome back Brian Wilson after illness but club captain Adam Lockwood has been ruled out as he appears to have suffered another knee injury.

The Oldham boss also revealed his players have been practising penalties, as tonight’s game will head straight for a shoot-out if the scores are level after 90 minutes.