Contrasting midweek fortunes for Preston North End and Birmingham City

The nature and demands of the Championship requires a swift turnaround for Preston and Birmingham tomorrow.
Che Adams has scored 21 goals for Birmingham this seasonChe Adams has scored 21 goals for Birmingham this season
Che Adams has scored 21 goals for Birmingham this season

The clubs meet at Deepdale having both been in action on Wednesday night.

North End only dragged themselves off the coach back from Middlesbrough in the early hours of Thursday.

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But the three points they brought back made it a very worthwhile late night.

At the same time Alex Neil’s men were beating Boro 2-1, Birmingham lost 2-0 at home to Millwall.

It was a third straight loss for the Blues and dropped them to 12th place, four points behind PNE.

The spotlight was on them against Millwall following the trouble which surrounded last Sunday’s derby defeat to Aston Villa.

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A Birmingham fan ran on the pitch and punched Villa skipper Jack Grealish in the first half.

That earned him a 14-week prison sentence and a 10-year ban from attending football matches.

Birmingham imposed their own lifetime ban on him.

The talk after Wednesday night’s game was thankfully focused on football, although for Garry Monk he had to chew over another defeat.

Blues boss Monk said: “It was poor from our point of view in that there were too many mistakes and too many individual errors in those goals .

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“In any game of football you can’t make those mistakes, expect to come back and get the result you want.

“We had really wanted to respond to the weekend and the result that we had, we wanted to try and give the fans that positive result.

“That was the intention but we never reached the levels we know this changing room is capable of.

“What is important now is in these remaining games we recognise that, and we have an important role to play in terms of what has been a really positive season up to this point, that we finish it as strong as possible.”

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Prior to this run of three defeats, Monk’s men had won away against Bristol City and drawn 2-2 with Blackburn at St Andrew’s.

Said Monk: “We are in a sticky patch at the moment and we have to try and come out of it.

“A lot of hard work has gone into this season and that needs to be cemented with a strong finish.

“We need to be ready for that in the game this weekend against Preston.”

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Birmingham will have the backing of 5,500 supporters at Deepdale, their allocation having sold out this week.

Their leading scorer this season is Che Adams with 21 goals.

It is that return which saw strong interest from Premier League clubs in January, with Burnley making a couple of big offers.

The Blues held firm to hold on to the 22-year-old striker who scored in the 3-0 victory against Preston in the reverse fixture in December.

Lukas Jutkiewicz has 10 goals this term but was on the bench against Millwall.