High PNE turn out for long trek

PNE players applaud the travelling fans at Brighton
PNE players applaud the travelling fans at Brighton
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IT might have been the longest trip of the season but that did not stop Preston fans turning out in their numbers at Brighton on Saturday.

The goalless draw attracted a 949 following from PNE, that the third highest away attendance at the Amex Stadium this season.

North End supporters were able to tick off a new ground, with previous visits to Brighton having been to the Withdean Stadium or before that, the Goldstone Ground.

Only Nottingham Forest and Cardiff have taken more away fans to the Amex this term, Forest taking 1,556 in August and Cardiff 1,162 earlier this month.

Getting to Brighton meant a 560-mile round-trip for the Preston fans.

The away support has been decent this season, with followings of 1,000 plus at MK Dons, Rotherham, Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday.

Last month’s clash with Brentford attracted 884 PNE fans, while 481 made the trek to London a week ago for the 3-0 win over Charlton.

The Lilywhites’ next two away games are both in the capital, at Queens Park Rangers a week on Saturday, then Fulham at the end of November.

Both of those will see big followings, especially the trip to Craven Cottage where PNE last played 15 years ago.

The journeys then get much shorter in December, with trips to Burnley, Leeds and Huddersfield.

North End have two home games on the bounce ahead of them, with the televised clash with Bolton on Saturday (6pm) followed by next Tuesday’s visit of Nottingham Forest to Deepdale.

Meanwhile, PNE manager Simon Grayson is open to the idea of taking his squad away for a team-bonding break again, following the success of the time they spent down south last week.

The players stayed in Windsor between the Charlton and Brighton games, training at Bisham Abbey – a previous training base for England.

An evening out at Kempton Park races last Wednesday briefly took their minds off football.

Grayson said: “Being away for a few days worked well.

“Getting the win at Charlton really lifted the players and they were very buoyant during our time away.

“The little break served its purpose, it got people together and kept the spirit high.

“By staying there, we cut down on the travelling – it was one trip down and one back rather than coming back up.

“We thank the owner for putting us up in his hotels down there and it is something we might try and do again.”

North End’s preparations for the Bolton game this weekend are being done much closer to home at Springfields.

It is the first meeting between the clubs since the 2001 play-off final at the Millennium Stadium when Botlon won 3-0.

For their trip to Deepdale, Bolton will be without defender Prince Desire Gouano.

He is suspended having been sent-off in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Leeds.

Midfielder Mark Davies and striker Gary Madine are early injury doubts.

Both came off in the Leeds game, Davies with an Achilles injury and Madine because of concussion.

Bolton are likely to give a debut to Luke Brattan against North End, having signed the midfielder on loan from Manchester City.

Brattan had only just joined City having been playing for Australian side Brisbane Roar.