Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

PNE midfielder Alan Browne sees red in the 6-0 defeat at Newcastle in October
PNE midfielder Alan Browne sees red in the 6-0 defeat at Newcastle in October
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The visit to Newcastle was always going to be a tough task for Preston but the Magpies now being able to get promoted with a victory could make it that bit tougher.

Mind you, the pressure is heaped on Rafa Benitez’s men and that is something that North End need to 
try and use to their advantage.

Their mind set has to be one of being party-poopers, try and delay Newcastle’s promotion for a few days.

I’m sure Newcastle will come out of the traps like a rocket in a bid to get an early goal to settle themselves down.

But if PNE can ride the storm, stay in the game and look bright, that will ramp the pressure up on the home side.

If I was a Preston player on Monday night, I’d be 
there to enjoy the game, enjoy the opportunity of playing in front of a 50,000 crowd.

You don’t get that chance often in the Championship – in fact there aren’t too many stadiums with that capacity in the Premier League.

People will no doubt think back to North End’s last visit to St James’ Park in October when they got hammered 6-0 in the EFL Cup.

Alan Browne’s red card in the first half that night killed them off and Newcastle took full advantage.

It will be a much different team this time and hopefully they can keep it 11 against 11.

While nearly all of the pressure is on Newcastle, there is pressure from within on North End to halt the run of three defeats.

That is not the sort of form they wanted to be in going up there and they’ll be wanting to avoid a fourth loss on the bounce.

It would have been nice to see Preston involved in the play-off race but the recent dip in results means they are out of the running.

It is a fascinating battle 
for those top six places though.

Leeds have dropped down to seventh, just a fortnight after their 3-0 win over PNE made them look certainties.

Maybe the pressure and expectation has got them at just the wrong time.

Reading, beaten 7-1 just a couple of weeks back, are now in third place.

Sheffield Wednesday have found their form at the right time, winning five in a row.

Fulham’s 4-1 victory at Huddersfield was a superb result, coming against a side with one of the strongest home records in the division.

I think it will be the four clubs currently in the play-offs place who will finish there – Leeds have to win both of their remaining games and hopes someone slips up above them.

For a few weeks now, I have fancied Fulham as the dark horses to win it.

Seeing their result against Huddersfield strengthens that belief.

Finally, I’m going to be playing in Simon Grayson’s charity game at Deepdale next Sunday.

I hope the kit we wear 
is a bit more flattering than last year’s – it was like a sausage skin for us lads who carry one or two extra pounds!