PNE’s nemesis back in business

Bobby Zamora (Picture: Angela Brinkhurst)
Bobby Zamora (Picture: Angela Brinkhurst)
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Preston North End will face old nemesis Bobby Zamora this weekend, although his introduction into the action could be a delayed one.

Zamora is back at Brighton this season, the club where he began making his name as a striker 15 years ago.

It is from West Ham where North End remember him to their cost, the striker scoring the Hammers’ winner against them in the 2005 Championship play-off final.

Now 34, Zamora returned to Brighton in August on a free transfer after being released by Queens Park Rangers.

In the past week, he has suddenly made a name for himself as a super sub.

Against Leeds last week, Zamora came off the bench to score the Seagulls’ winner in the 89th minute.

On Tuesday night, he did likewise, slightly earlier in the 82nd minute, as Brighton beat Bristol City.

Bearing in mind his age, Zamora is happy for the time being in a substitute role.

It could be that the bench is again his starting point for PNE’s visit to the Amex Stadium.

Zamora said: “I think the way I am at the minute, coming on as sub is perfect for the team. If I play 90 minutes there is a chance I could miss the next game, just due to stiffness and wear and tear.

“I can play 90 minutes or start games but, at the minute, everything seems to be working as it is.

“To score two in two when coming on as a sub is special and it’s Brighton!

“The club means so much to me and it was great to get the winning goal again.

“It’s been nice to get one away and one at home, as all the boxes are ticked and our unbeaten record continues. The one on Tuesday was a reaction finish, when you do shooting practice for so many years it becomes second nature or instinct. You just try to hit the target.

“I didn’t really try to place it or anything like that, from where I was looking there was not much space between the defenders or the posts, so I had a bit of luck.

“You have just got to try and hit the target when you get half a chance.”

Brighton manager Chris Hughton hailed Zamora’s striking instincts.

Hughton said: “That’s what Bobby does.

“Bobby’s used to being in positions in the box and he has experience and quality.

“He’s a different type of player, we all know that, from what he was some years ago but he has adapted his game and he knows best the type of player he is.”

Against Bristol City, the Seagulls had to come from behind in order to preserve their unbeaten record in the Championship this season.

City took a first-half lead, with Sam Baldock equalising soon after half-time.

Then step forward Zamora off the bench to net the late winner.

Looking back at the game, Zamora said: “We created a lot of chances and I think we deserved the win overall. It 
shows our character 
coming from behind, and also the perseverance and spirit shown from the lads.

“We’re going to need it this year, it isn’t going to always be as rosy as it has been so far this season.

“There will be a sticky patch and the togetherness we showed will help us get through it.”

After finishing only two places above the relegation zone in May, Brighton have taken the bull by the horns so far this season as they look to reach the Premier League.

They have the fantastic Amex Stadium as home now, that after lodging at the Withdean Stadium for 11 years.

This will be PNE’s first visit there, the ground having opened in 2011.

Brighton will be without midfielder Baram Kayal against North End, the Israel international having picked up a fifth yellow card against Bristol City.

However, they have former Sheffield United winger Jamie Murphy back in the squad after he completed a three-match suspension.

If Zamora is held back on the bench, Baldock and Tomer Hemed will start up front.

Solly March, a team-mate of PNE’s Jordan Pickford in the England Under-21s, will be in Albion’s midfield.