Draw specialists Forest could take PNE all the way

Forest's Jamie Paterson (right) hit a hat-trick in the third round against West Ham
Forest's Jamie Paterson (right) hit a hat-trick in the third round against West Ham
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Preston North End FA Cup clash with Nottingham Forest tonight has the potential of going the full distance, which could mean a long evening for the Deepdale crowd.

Forest arrive in Lancashire having drawn seven of their away games this season.

With six of the Lilywhites’ home league matches ending all square, what chance a draw after 90 minutes and the replay going into extra time?

Once upon a time, replay followed replay, until a winner was found in an FA Cup tie.

But this fourth round clash has to be settled on the night, with penalties if necessary.

That said, both teams have it in their locker to settle this one in normal time.

Forest are on a 13-game unbeaten run, and in the last few days have beaten Yeovil 3-1 and Watford 4-2 at the City Ground.

In fact their last four games have all been on home turf, with North End’s visit a week last Friday preceded by Forest thrashing Blackburn 4-1.

The last away game for Billy Davies’ men was a 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers on January 11.

North End boss Simon Grayson is fully aware of the threat which Forest will pose this evening.

His side had to work very hard to earn a goalless draw in the first game, and Grayson wants more of the same from the PNE players.

“Whatever side Forest put out, they will be strong,” said Grayson. “They have been a hard team to beat away from home, have drawn a lot of games and probably would have liked to have won a few more.

“But it will be a tough test for us and we have to be at the top of our game.

“The extra spice is Billy Davies coming back to Preston North End.

“Billy did fantastically well for this club and sometimes fans might forget that.

“He might get one or two boos tonight but it should not be forgotten that he nearly took the club up to the Premier League.”

Forest sit comfortably in the Championship play-off zone and within six points of second-placed Queens Park Rangers.

With their last defeat coming more than two months ago, Davies’ side seem to be hitting form at the right time.

Against Watford last Thursday, they fought back from 2-0 down to win 4-2.

All their scorers that night were substitutes, Simon Cox (2), Darius Henderson and Jamie Mackie on target.

Against Yeovil on Sunday, Cox and new signing Rafik Djebbour found the net to add to an earlier own goal.

Former West Bromwich striker Cox now has eight goals for the season, and is Forest’s joint-top league scorer with Andy Reid.

Midfielder Henri Lansbury, who missed the first game against PNE because of suspension, has netted seven times, while Darius Henderson has six to his name.

Jamie Paterson scored a hat-trick in the last round against West Ham.

The away dugout tonight will have a familiar look about it. Davies’ trusted deputy is David ‘Ned’ Kelly, and Forest’s first-team coach is Julian Darby – the trio came together at North 

Goalkeeper coach Pete Williams and physio Andrew Balderston were both on Davies’ staff when he was in charge of North 

A more recent addition to Davies’ backroom team is Rob Kelly.

He was inherited by Davies last year when the Scotsman returned to boss Forest for a second time. Rob Kelly was on North End’s coaching staff under Paul Simpson and Alan Irvine, and was briefly caretaker manager after the sacking of Irvine in December 2009.

This is the ninth FA Cup meeting between Preston and Forest.