PNE face tough task on the road

Midfielder Peter Whittingham has scored  five goals 
this season

Midfielder Peter Whittingham has scored five goals this season

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Preston North End will face a Cardiff side this weekend who clearly enjoy their home comforts.

The Bluebirds have lost only once in the league in their own back yard this season, that against leaders Hull City.

They have recorded eight wins and seven draws at the Cardiff City Stadium, those the statistics facing PNE on Saturday as they look to keep their strong form going.

North End manager Simon Grayson said: “Cardiff have got parachute money, a good squad and some good individual players.

“They have a really good record at home and are pushing hard for one of those play-off places.

“It is a big game for us and a tough one but I’m sure they have seen what we have been doing recently.

“In Russell Slade, they have a very experienced manager, a fantastic guy.

“No matter which club Russell is at, his philosophy and ideas will not change.

“He wants an honest bunch of players who work hard for each other.

“I’ve had a good rapport with him down the years but hopefully we can send another opposition manager home unhappy on Saturday night.”

Cardiff go into North End’s visit on the back of a 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough on Tuesday evening.

They went ahead in the clash at the Riverside Stadium with a superb long-range strike from Fabio Da Silva.

But an own goal from Matthew Connolly saw them pegged back, with Gaston Ramirez and David Nugent scoring to give Boro victory.

Although they lost that game, Cardiff impressed in a 4-1 win over Brighton last Saturday.

They were 3-0 up inside 30 minutes, with Peter Whittingham, Anthony Pilkington and Lex Immers on target.

Whittingham struck again in the second half to complete the scoring.

He is one of two survivors in the Cardiff team who faced PNE in their last visit to South Wales in December 2010 – the other is goalkeeper David Marshall.

Later that season, it was a Whittingham goal which condemned North End to relegation at Deepdale.

The expectation at Cardiff this season is for them to challenge for a return to the Premier League.

They were in the top flight for the 2013/14 campaign, Malky Mackay guiding them up.

He was replaced part way through that campaign by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Slade picking up the reins from him in October 2014.

Reflecting on their midweek defeat to Boro, Slade said: “As tough as it was there, it was an opportunity to win games back to back and now we’ve got to start again.

“We were all small at one stage and learning to walk and we fell over 50 times, but that didn’t stop us getting back up. That’s what we have to do.

“We’ve got to dust ourselves down, we’ve got to get back to winning ways.

“It wasn’t to be against Boro and now we have to put that behind us as quickly as possible.

“It’s not going to get any easier.

“It was a fantastic goal from Fabio – a wonder goal – to get us in front.

“But we almost conspired to help them even before they equalised, to give them a lift and get back in the game.

“Scott Malone gave the ball away on the halfway line and you can’t afford to do that against teams of that calibre away from home.

“That happened for the third goal, we gave it away. You can’t do that, you have to make the right decisions and choices.

“The defence was really not at its best – they didn’t reach the good standards they set.”