Match Preview: Preston North End vs. Derby County


As most North End fans will already know, the game against the Rams is a special one for non-footballing reasons. It’s the club’s 5,000th league game.

We’ll be the first club to reach that landmark in the EFL and it’s just a shame that it’s going to be played behind closed doors but considering we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, the fact we’re even playing football is something to be pleased about.

The podcast we released on Monday has been perceived by many to be ‘negative’ and I completely understand that but all we did was discuss the current state of play as far as North End are concerned both on and off the pitch. In that ‘state of play’ there were some cold, hard facts as well. Apologies if you thought it a negative listen. If you haven’t listened to this week’s episode, I’ve embedded it below, just press play and you’re good.

Onto the Derby game on Wednesday. First of all, I’d just like to wish Andre Wisdom well from all of us here at From the Finney.

We haven’t got a very good record against Derby, in fact, our last win came way back in 2008 on Boxing Day with a 2-0 win. The Beast, Jon Parkin, and Sean St. Ledger were both on the scoresheet that day but in the 13 games that have followed that, we’ve failed to score in 9 and have only managed to score twice against them since we returned to the Championship in 2015.

Since that win in 2008, from a possible 39 points, we’ve picked up 9. To say that we tend not to do well against Derby would, I think, be an understatement.

In the first game week back following the resumption of football in England, there were only two home wins with Blackburn Rovers beating Lee Johnson’s Bristol City and Cardiff upsetting the league leaders, Leeds United, at the Cardiff City Stadium. The last game week that saw us crumble, also against Cardiff, there was an improvement in the home wins column as Brentford beat West Brom on Friday night, Charlton beat QPR, Leeds beat Fulham, Wigan beat Rovers, Forest beat Huddersfield and our visitors on Wednesday also beat Reading 2-1 at Pride Park.

Whether or not the perceived lack of home advantage has translated to the Championship as it has in the Bundesliga since its return is still up for debate but our poor start to the resumption of football and lack of goals doesn’t bode well for the game against Derby County who have scored five in their last two games. However, I will try to remain cautiously optimistic, despite my 1-3 prediction in the podcast. Having time to reflect is a good thing.

Potential Dangers

The obvious one here, and rightly so, is Wayne Rooney. He’s clearly still more than good enough to cut it at this level, despite being 34 years old now. When he joined Derby in January, they were 17th in the league and they’re now 8th.

Wayne has scored 4 goals since he joined the Rams in January and also has 2 assists but on top of that, I’ve no doubt the role he plays in the squad is huge considering the amount of young talent they have coming through. There’s not really much else I can say about Rooney that most of you reading this won’t already know about him.

The other player I’d have included here as a potential danger is Tom Lawrence but he’s going to be missing this one after getting sent off after the final whistle in the game against Reading at the weekend for headbutting Matt Miazga. The American also saw red for The Royals as he slapped Lawrence back. See below, it’s quite amusing in all honesty.

Had he been playing, he would have been an obvious threat as he now has scored more goals from outside the box than anyone else in the Championship since the 2013/14 season.

Of course, he got one from outside the box against us two years ago in a game that all but confirmed a top 6 spot for Derby after they ran out 0-1 winners at Deepdale after Alan Browne missed a penalty earlier on in the game. Granted, the goal was a freekick but still, it’s from outside the box and it’s a good hit but Maxwell should have done better, really.

Another name that some of you might have heard recently is that of 18-year-old, Louie Sibley. He scored a hat-trick against Millwall in Derby’s first game back after the restart and he also scored in Derby’s last game before football was paused against Rovers in a 3-0 win.

The talented youngster has only made 4 appearances in the league this season with 3 starts and one substitute appearance and already has 4 goals and an assist to his name. The young attacking midfielder will certainly be one to watch out for on Wednesday should he be involved in the game.

Then there are Derby’s two top scorers either side of Tom Lawrence who has 10 goals. Their leading scorer is Martyn Waghorn and just behind Lawrence is veteran Chris Martin with 9. Referring to Martin as a veteran at only 31 feels odd but he’s been around the block once or twice at this level and he certainly knows where the back of the net is.

Waghorn tends to start either upfront or on the right for Derby but if Chris Martin plays on Wednesday night, he’ll almost certainly be leading the line which would see Waghorn out on the right again. Two powerful forwards, whoever starts as part of our back four will no doubt have their hands full.

Opposition View

This week, the opposition view comes to you from Derby County fan and the man behind Derby County podcast, Steve Bloomer’s Washing, Chris Parsons. You can find Chris on twitter here – @ChrisParsons274.

Derby’s season has been one of huge contrast – before Christmas, we were in disarray both on and off the pitch. There was the infamous drink-drive incident involving Tom Lawrence, Mason Bennett and passenger Richard Keogh, losing club-record signing Krystian Bielik to a season-ending injury, and no fewer than five 3-0 away defeats in all competitions before Christmas, all of which had more pessimistic fans fretting about a possible relegation scrap.

However, since the New Year and the arrival of a certain Wayne Rooney, Derby have become the form team in the division, climbed 10 places and are now on the verge of crashing the top six party. It’s a remarkable turnaround for which Phillip Cocu deserves huge credit.

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Derby’s last game before lockdown saw the emergence of homegrown academy midfield starlet Louie Sibley – and the teenager carried on where he left off after the restart, banging in a hattrick at Millwall to make national headlines.

Since Derby’s forgettable 1-0 win over Preston in November, Sibley, along with fellow youngster Max Bird, has cracked the starting XI and will likely start at Deepdale alongside Rooney. The influence of Derby’s new skipper cannot be underestimated – he clearly doesn’t cover the ground like he used to, but his technique is still unparalleled and the way Sibley and Bird have improved under his mentoring has been a joy to watch.

The backline will be largely the same, except the absent Andre Wisdom who, in the latest shocking turn of events to befall Derby this season, was robbed and stabbed just days ago on Merseyside and is currently recovering in hospital. He’s been a popular player for years at Pride Park, and the assault shocked our entire fanbase. Hopefully, the team do Andre proud with their performance at Deepdale.

With Derby in the form they’re in, Preston’s struggles in their last 7 games, and the leveller of behind closed doors, in theory, we should have nothing to fear. However, both teams will be aware of the importance of the fixture for our playoff hopes, meaning it could be a tight, cagey affair with both sides still seeking full fitness. We’ll be desperate to win given our remaining run-in is brutal, but as I’m feeling uncharacteristically positive, I’ll say 1-0 Derby.

Predicted line-up (4231): Hamer; Bogle, Davies, Clarke, Forsyth; Rooney (C), Bird; Holmes, Sibley, Waghorn; Martin.


This is usually a tough section anyway but with the added uncertainty around who will start or who might be given a rest or is carrying a knock due to playing 7 games in 22 days before the end of July, it’s going to be even tougher now.

I would be extremely surprised to see Jayden Stockley given another start on Wednesday night and I think there will also be changes elsewhere in the side. Perhaps Gallagher will come in for Alan Browne or Daniel Johnson, we might see Billy Bodin or Brad Potts come into the starting XI as well. As we spoke about on the podcast this week, there needs to be changes, at least in the attacking third as we’ve failed to do much in the last two games.

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For a starting XI, I would probably go with the following provided all are fit and available: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Pearson, Gallagher; Sinclair, Johnson, Bodin; Barkhuizen.

Having Barky up top and Bill on the right would allow a lot of fluidity from the front four if you will. However, as Jimmy said on the podcast, there’s also a case for Brad Potts to come into the side and provide plenty of running and ‘legs’ if you will.

In terms of a result, I’m feeling slightly more positive so I’ll punt for a 2-2 draw. We haven’t kept a clean sheet at home since we played Brentford way back in September so I don’t back us to keep Derby out but I have a feeling we might show up a bit more in the final third on Wednesday.

Make sure you let us know how you think we’ll get on against The Rams over on our social media channels. We’re on Facebook here – From the Finney, Twitter here – @fromthefinney and Instagram here – @fromthefinney.

Finally, if you aren’t following us on social media, make sure you do as we’re going to be recording a post-game podcast, a short 20/30 minute episode and all being well, we will do one after every midweek game between now and the end of the season. We might also have a guest Sky Sports pundit joining us tomorrow as well.