Paul Gallagher ready for Preston North End's derby with Blackburn behind closed doors and with taped crowd noise

Paul Gallagher felt piped crowd noise helped to create an atmosphere in Preston North End’s victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 12:39 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd November 2020, 12:42 pm

However, the experienced midfielder admitted it was no substitute for having fans in the ground – Deepdale being empty on Tuesday night for the derby clash with Blackburn Rovers will drive that point home.

North End positioned new speakers around the ground in the stands for the Owls clash.

It coincided with their first home league win of the season, so the volume will be turned up for Rovers’ visit.

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Preston North End midfidler Paul Gallagher sends a free-kick over the Sheffield Wednesday wall at Deepdale

Gallagher said: “When I came out for the warm-up on Saturday I momentarily thought the fans were there before realising they weren’t.

“There was a roar but when I looked around there was obviously no one sat in the stands.

“I was with Ben Pearson at the time and said to him, ‘Where has that come from’?

“It did seem to help, I thought it did. Anything which creates a bit more of an atmosphere is worth trying.”

PNE midfielder Paul Gallagher

This will be the first derby clash North End have played since football went behind closed doors in March.

Attendances at PNE’s meetings with Rovers have been healthy over the last few years, with North End taking some huge away followings to Ewood Park.

While there will be an edge to proceedings at Deepdale, it will lack the normal intensity of the derby.

Gallagher said: “It will be weird to have a derby match without fans, probably more so than most games.

“When you think back to the games we’ve had with Blackburn at Deepdale or Ewood, there’s always been a special feeling.

“Driving on the coach, when you get near a ground and see the fans it gives you that extra five or 10 per cent.

“You know then that it is time to go to work, you have to be ready to go to war.

“At the moment we are playing without the fans which is strange but we have to be professional, that is our job.

“Whatever the circumstances are, it is up to us to go out there and try and get the three points.

“It’s far better with the fans in the grounds but that is the way things are the moment.”

Gallagher started his career with Blackburn and made 74 appearances for them.

Having been brought up in the East Lancashire town, he has plenty of friends who support Rovers and as a result has taken some stick from them when pulling on a Preston shirt over the last few years.

“We’ve done very well when playing Blackburn,” said 36-year-old Gallagher.

“I remember the first time I went back to play at Ewood Park for any club was under Simon Grayson and we won 2-1.

“When we drew 2-2 I got a bit of stick from my friends because I made the pass to Tom Clarke who squared it for Aiden McGeady to score the late equaliser.

“Blackburn went down that season and my friends were trying to blame me for it!

“I had to point out to them that it was over 46 games and wasn’t my fault.

“I haven’t played in this derby for Blackburn, it’s always been for Preston.

“When I was a kid, Blackburn won at Deepdale to go up with Matt Jansen scoring.” Gallagher got his latest slice of PNE action in the win over Wednesday, coming on as a half-time substitute.

With the 10-man visitors sitting deep, it was a perfect game for Gallagher to get on the ball and play.

“Even when they had 11 men in the first half before the red card, they dropped back to their 18-yard box and defended from there,” said Gallagher.

“At half-time the manager spoke to me and said he wanted me to get on the ball, keep it simple, move them from side to side.

“We wanted to get them out of their slots and get in to do some damage. Scoring so early in the second half helped us, it meant we could keep the ball more and work Sheffield Wednesday.

“Could we have played better? Yes we could. But the main thing was we won the game and got three points.

“We’ve got our first home win and we want more.”

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