Preston North End may find joy from set-pieces against Bristol City

Preston North End and Bristol City see one another as familiar foe as they prepare for another meeting at Deepdale on Saturday.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 29th January 2022, 8:00 am

This will be the 18th time they have played over the last nine seasons.

While North End have lost only one of those games – 2-0 a year ago at Ashton Gate – the clubs have walked side by side since 2013.

They were promoted from League One in the same campaign, the Robins going up as champions and PNE following via the play-offs.

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Bristol City’s Andreas Weimann scores at Luton on Tuesday night

Heading into the weekend, Ryan Lowe’s men are three points and three places better off than Saturday’s visitors.

Events in midweek put that bit of daylight between the clubs.

City were beaten 2-1 at Luton on Tuesday night, with North End winning the following evening at West Bromwich Albion.

For both sides, these last couple of days will have been all about recovering and getting in shape to do battle.

Both goals which the Robins conceded at Luton came from set-pieces.

That was of particular annoyance to City manager Nigel Pearson who knows that was not an isolated occurrence.

Pearson said: “It’s a reoccurring problem for us and that is that we continue to be lacking discipline at set-plays.

“That’s the biggest problem for us because we conceded two again in a game where we’ve created some great opportunities, dominated the game and come away with nothing.

“When you’re having to score two goals every game to get a point it’s hard work.

“I don’t think they caused us too many problems in open play, that’s the problem, so it’s the same old story that’s occurring and we’ve lost a few players recently so we’re going to have to go again with the same group of people.

“It’s our Achilles heel, it’s causing us too many problems and you can practise it all you want, but unless players are prepared to stick their head on the block, that’s where the problem is.”

The Robins have a few injuries to contend with ahead of the PNE game.

Former Preston loanee Matty James is expected to miss the game due to a foot injury similar to the one Ched Evans had until recently.

Pearson’s No.2 Curits Fleming said: “Every time he touches the ground, it’s sore.

“It’s something we’ve had to work on, we’re just settling it down and gauging it as he goes with getting that pain down.

“Jamo is a sensible enough guy but he’s desperate to get back in, he loves the games, he loves the playing, he gets fed up.”

The Robins’ results have been a mixed bag, the defeat at Luton coming on the back of last week’s 3-2 victory over Cardiff City.

Before that came a 6-2 loss at Fulham, the Cottagers having knocked them out of the FA Cup the week before.

Andreas Weimann is their leading scorer, the Austrian netting 14 goals in the Championship.