Preston North End in Numbers: How 11 has become the magic number for Lilywhites

Alan Browne has 11 goals this season for 11th-placed Preston North End
Alan Browne has 11 goals this season for 11th-placed Preston North End

For many Preston North End fans, a look at the league table on Saturday was like seeing an old friend for the first time in a while.

The 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest on Saturday made it seven games unbeaten for Alex Neil’s side.

It also lifted them up 11th place in the Championship as the Lilywhites’ upward trajectory in 2019 continued.

That is of course a familiar position for PNE and their supporters, that being where they finished in their first two seasons back in the second tier after promotion from League One.

The 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns ended up with North End not only in the same position but also on an identical number of points, 62.

In another quirk of the statistics their path to 11th after 33 games of the current season has come courtesy of 11 wins, 11 draws and 11 defeats.

Boss Neil will, of course, be hoping their stay there is temporary with a trip to Millwall next up on Saturday.

He has also challenged his in-form side to make a late and unlikely run at the play-offs.

The connection with the number 11 in this current campaign stretches even beyond their current league placing and their identical record of wins, losses and draws.

Alan Browne is PNE’s leading goalscorer as things stand with – you guessed it – 11 goals.

Having scored in the last three away games to take him beyond early-season pace-setter Callum Robinson, he will hope to make it four in a row at The Den.

It’s also 11 cards for the season for Ben Pearson.

The midfielder, no stranger to a suspension of course, has nine yellows and two reds this season as he has missed far too many games for his manager’s liking.

One more booking will see him serve another two-game ban, something all involved at Deepdale will be keen to avoid.

There is an important point coming up in the campaign that will be a clear target.

Should Pearson get to 37 league games still on nine bookings then he will not serve a ban for reaching 10 this season.

That means North End’s No.4 has to keep his nose clean for another four matches.

He is only gone four games without a card this season once, that run ending with his red card at Sheffield Wednesday just before Christmas.

If PNE are to make their season really interesting right until the closing weeks of the campaign then Pearson’s presence will be key to their chances.