Preston North End's away day start to the season is something of a rarity

Preston North End will have to turn the clock back for some historical inspiration in terms of their opening Championship game of the season.

Monday, 24th June 2019, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 24th June 2019, 2:58 pm
Simon Whaley scores for Preston at Ipswich in August 2008 - the last time PNE won away on the opening day

The EFL fixture computer has given them an away start at Millwall on August 3.

Being on their travels on the opening weekend has not been commonplace in the last few years and it is a while since PNE won away on the first day.

The last time was 11 years ago at the beginning of the 2008/09 season.

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David Nugent celebrates after scoring in Preston's opening-day win at Watford in 2005

North End won 2-1 at Ipswich on August 9, 2008, with goals from Paul McKenna and Simon Whaley.

By a quirk of the fixture list they have since only played away on the opening day once.

That was against Reading in 2016 when they went down to a 1-0 loss at the Madjeski Stadium.

The fact they have an away start this time was overdue and Millwall will be the first of five trips to London over the course of the campaign.

Preston's winner against QPR at Deepdale on the opening day of last season

Prior to 2008/09, PNE’s last away start had come in 2005 at Watford – they won that 2-1 with goals from David Nugent and Dickson Etuhu.

In 2001 they were thrashed 5-0 at Gillingham, while the season before – their first back in the second tier – they won 2-1 at Grimsby Town.

In nine out of the last 10 seasons North End have had a home start – and it wasn’t always an advantage.

For seven years between 2009 and 2015 they played their first game at Deepdale, drawing four and losing three.

Preston won away at Grimsby Town on the opening day of the 2000/01 season

Then they went to Reading in 2016 before turning the tide in the last two seasons.

Alex Neil’s first league game in charge saw them beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Deepdale in 2017, Daniel Johnson scoring from the spot.

Last year they beat QPR by the same score, a header from Alan Browne delivering three points.

Millwall had to fight against relegation last season, finishing 21st – four points clear of the drop zone.

North End won 3-1 at the Den in February with Andrew Hughes, Tom Clarke and Sean Maguire finding the net.

The season before, Callum Robinson scored in a 1-1 draw in South London.

Preston’s squad are back in training on Thursday, with the first friendly being at Bamber Bridge on Saturday, July 6.

Some of the players have been back at Springfields for spells during the summer to work on their fitness.

The pre-season schedule included a trip to Fota Island during which they will play Cork City.