Dean boys have beano on the road

Preston North End's Kyel Reid battles with  Walsall's Anthony Fordel in the last match between the two sides
Preston North End's Kyel Reid battles with Walsall's Anthony Fordel in the last match between the two sides
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There will be no travel sickness pills on the Walsall team coach this evening when they make the journey north to Preston North End.

The Saddlers face North End at Deepdale in a League One fixture, hoping to protect their excellent recent away record.

It is more than three months since Dean Smith’s men last tasted defeat away from the Bescot Stadium.

A 1-0 loss to Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup first round on November 18 was the last time Walsall were beaten on their travels.

Since then, the Saddlers have remained unbeaten in 10 away games in all competitions.

Included in that sequence is a 2-0 win at Deepdale in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final first leg – they later went on to secure a place in the final at Wembley by drawing 0-0 in the second leg at home.

As far as the league is concerned, it is their away record which is keeping them in touch with the play-off places.

Just four points away from sixth placed Bradford City, who they drew 1-1 with at Valley Parade on Saturday, Walsall have picked up 18 points from a possible 24 from their previous eight away games in the league.

It is a statistic which has not gone unnoticed by PNE boss Simon Grayson.

“They have got a fantastic away record,” he said.

“It’s three or four months since they last got beaten away from home.

“I think it’s something like five wins and three draws in the league on their travels.

“So that’s testimony to them and what they have done.” North End have yet to beat Walsall this season in three attempts.

As well as the JPT success, the Saddlers also ran out 3-1 victors at the Bescot Stadium in the first league meeting between the two in September.

The visitors’ leading goalscorer Tom Bradshaw may be missing from tonight’s encounter, as he has sat out the last few games.

But young striker Jordy Hiwula – who is on loan from Manchester City – has taken over the goalscoring mantle.

His goal against Bradford at the weekend was his third in four appearances for the club.

“What really impresses me about Jordy is his workrate,” said Walsall manager Smith.

“But when he gets the ball to his feet, he has fast feet.

“He would be a defender’s nightmare – I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to mark him.”

There is a chance that Bradshaw could come back into contention tonight and partner Hiwula in attack.

“They’ve had Tom Bradshaw, their leading goalscorer, out the last few weeks – whether he’s back or not I don’t know,” said Grayson.

“But the young kid they have got from City has got three in four games.

“They are a team which doesn’t change its personnel much or change its system much.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game.

“When you have got a record like they have got of being nearly four months unbeaten on the road, it shows what they are capable of.”

Smith was thrilled with the point his side earned on Saturday after going behind to the Bantams at Valley Parade.

“It was a hard-earned draw and probably a fair point on reflection of the game,” he said.

“It was not a great spectacle but certainly the pitch does not help that. Two teams tried their hardest to win the game. We managed to get back into the game with a good cross from Jordan Cook and a good header from Jordy. I think it was a fair result on the day.

“It’s a big point, coming from behind in the second half with a big crowd behind them and them putting the pressure on.

“We withstood it and got our rewards in the end.”

Young winger Anthony Forde is expected to 
start against North End tonight.

The former Wolves star was on target with a free-kick in the 2-0 victory at Deepdale earlier this year.

In 38 appearances for the Saddlers this season, the 21-year-old has notched on five occasions and will provide a major threat to the home side’s defence.