There is still plenty to play for as Preston North End's Championship season nears its end

Preston North End are nearing the home straight of their 2021/22 campaign and the main fear amongst fans at the moment will be that the season will be over before it is over.

By Tom Sandells
Sunday, 27th March 2022, 8:00 am
Preston North End's Ben Whiteman competing with Luton Town's Amari'i Bell.
Preston North End's Ben Whiteman competing with Luton Town's Amari'i Bell.

In truth, it is almost at that stage already. It would take something very special for the Lilywhites to reach the play-offs now but that is not something out of the realms of possibility, and for that reason there is still something to play for.

It has often been the case since North End’s return to the Championship in 2015 that they have flirted with the play-off places before falling away.

They did top the table and were sitting in the top six when the pandemic paused the season two years ago, but as they do, they fell away.

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It is not a failure to do that, Preston have always been punching above their weight in terms of fincances and in the Championship those that are able to spend money freely do notice the benefit. Just ask Fulham and their £40m duo of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Harry Wilson, the latter signed this season.

But as the final eight games approach for PNE, as the final international break goes by, they are eight places and 10 points back from Blackburn Rovers in sixth.

It is still not impossible, but to jump above eight other teams and win what is likely to be needed to be the vast majority of your remaining games is unlikely.

It has been a season of change at Deepdale, Frankie McAvoy started the season as the head coach and Ryan Lowe will end it as manager, with a much different style and a much different atmosphere around the club. There may even be a new owner soon.

Even within the final eight games though, if North End fans were to resign themselves to a mid table finish, there is plenty to look forward to.

First of, the much anticipated return to action after two weeks off – a trip to Derby County, who are fighting for their lives.

Then comes the big one, the derby against Blackpool. A chance for revenge, a chance to create new heroes and most importantly of all, a chance to show appreciation to an icon of the city, not just club, on what would have been Sir Tom Finney’s 100th birthday under the lights at Deepdale.

Easter follows shortly after, a time where bank holidays means that there can be more supporters free to follow their team – not that the EFL have helped much with that as there are no trains direct to London on Easter Monday, but there is nothing new there.

There is also the home game against Blackburn Rovers, another chance for revenge, a chance to scupper a rival’s play-off bid and a good barometer of where this team has got itself to under Lowe.

Gentry Day at Barnsley is next and an important day for all PNE fans as we remember those we have lost.

There is still so much for the Lilywhites to play for, even if their final points tally matters not in the end.