PNE defender says home holds the key
A Slight improvement in points return at home over the remaining few months of the season could still yet push Preston North End towards the Championship play-off picture.
That is the view of North End defender Paul Huntington, who is preparing for the visit of promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday to Deepdale this weekend.
A telling statistic of North End’s season so far is that they have collected as many points on the road as they have at home.
Twenty-one points have been garnered from 16 away games – a tally which stands close in comparison to the very best teams in the division.
Second-placed Middlesbrough are currently the joint best travellers alongside Birmingham City in the division, but they have only picked up four extra points on the road than PNE.
In fact, outside of the top eight, only Wolves – beaten 2-1 by North End at Molineux at the weekend – have accumulated more points on the road.
Ironically, Kenny Jackett’s men are the only side in the top 15 who have a worse record at home than Simon Grayson’s men.
It is not that North End’s record at Deepdale is poor, but the statistic illustrates that their style of play is perhaps better suited to being the visiting side.
“We have done well at home,” said Huntington, who is part of a PNE squad which is nine points off the play-off positions. “Performances overall – both home and away – have been good as a group.
“I think what we have found this season is that there are a lot of big clubs in this division who are just expected to turn up at home and win. As we all know, football does not work out like that and at times, we have been able to use that in our favour.
“I think there are few teams in this division who like to counter-attack and that style of play does suit us.
“But we are capable of playing a patient and possession game when teams come to Deepdale.
“The home form is something I think we can improve upon. We have done well at home but probably done a little bit better away.”
On the face of it, North End face a difficult task this weekend against the Owls, who are in fifth spot in the table – 11 points ahead of Grayson’s men.
Interestingly, almost two-thirds of their points have been accumulated at Hillsborough and out of the current top six, their away record is comfortably the worst.
Despite their opponents’ lofty position in the table, Huntington sees no reason why North End cannot record their sixth home win of the season.
“Sheffield Wednesday are a top team,” said Huntington. “Their aim this season is to get promoted, probably through the play-offs.
“But I think we are capable of getting something. We have taken a lot of points off the teams at the top over the course of the season.
“I have heard they have sold a lot of tickets for the match– five or six thousand – so it should be a good game and a great atmosphere.
“Hopefully, we will be able to pick up another three points.”