FA Cup clash with Wycombe will bring back happy memories for Preston North End

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Preston North End being drawn at Wycombe in the FA Cup third round was hardly an inspiring draw.

A fellow Championship side is not what you want in the cup, especially with the clubs meeting on Saturday in the league at Deepdale.

There will be just a month between the games, with PNE heading to Adams Park on the weekend on January 9/10.

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It won’t be a television pick by any stretch of the imagination, a highlights fee likely to be the best it gets from a financial point of view.

Josh Harrop was on target in PNE’s 5-1 FA Cup win at Wycombe in 2018Josh Harrop was on target in PNE’s 5-1 FA Cup win at Wycombe in 2018
Josh Harrop was on target in PNE’s 5-1 FA Cup win at Wycombe in 2018

What the game does do is conjure up a couple of good memories of past meetings in the cup between the clubs.

They met at the third-round stage as recently as January 2018 in Alex Neil’s first season in charge.

North End won 5-1 that day in Buckinghamshire, turning in a fine performance.

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Josh Harrop started and finished the scoring that day, his first goal with a superb free-kick hitting the net in the second minute.

Alan Browne also netted twice, one of them a penalty, with Daryl Horgan on target.

It was a good showing that day from Horgan which stuck in the memory of Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth. When he set about adding to his squad this summer after promotion via the League One play-ofs, winger Horgan sprang to mind.

They paid Hibernian £100,000 for the Republic of Ireland international, North End having sold him to Hibs in August 2018 for £250,000.

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Another FA Cup meeting between the Chairboys and Preston came in December 2013, PNE winning 1-0 away with a superb long-range volley from Kevin Davies.

The big link between PNE and Wycombe is Ainsworth, who had three spells as a player at Deepdale.

He joined North End as a youngster after leaving home-town club Blackburn and made a handful of appearances when Les Chapman was manager.

Ainsworth returned to the club under John Beck in December 1992, following Beck from Cambridge.

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It was that spell when he really made his name with a series of wholehearted displays – Ainsworth even ended up playing in goal against Port Vale in April 1993 when goalkeeper Simon Farnworth had to go off with an injury.

His third spell was at the end of the 2001/2002 season when caretaker manager Kelham O’Hanlon signed him on loan from Wimbledon.