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Preston easing off to allow City final day win?

Preston preview

By Gavin Mapstone

Form guide: Preston's last six

H Ipswich D 2-2 Brown, Mellor
A Plymouth D 2-2 Mellor, Chaplow
H Barnsley L 1-2 o.g.
A QPR D 2-2 Mellor, Priskin
H Sheff Utd W 3-1 Davidson, Mellor (2)
H Burnley W 2-1 Priskin, Brown

And so to the last game of the regular season and whatever happens from now it’s been a campaign to remember and our most successful since departing the old First Division. Rather than reflect on what might have been (and what still could be) we should praise Gary Johnson for guiding us to the play-offs, and on the way producing some scintillating football. Given the competitive nature of the league, finishing in the top six is no mean feat and having two players selected for the PFA XI showed that we made our mark.

Preston have been regular attendees in the end of season play-offs themselves, but a woeful start means that to be comfortably clear of relegation is something of a triumph and they’ll be another team aiming to be much higher up the table in a year's time.

Recent results for the Lilywhites have been good although there is perhaps a suspicion that now safety has been achieved they’ve gone off the boil a little. They’ll present a sterner test than seemed likely a few months ago.

With City back to some kind of form against Sheffield United and a full house to cheer them on I think that we’ll get back to winning ways.

End of Season Awards
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Preston pundit
This week's preview is courtesy of Simon Ostiadel from Footy Mad. So a big thanks to him.  His site, prestonnorthend-mad.co.uk, also has a match preview.

So Simon, what kind of form are Preston in at the moment?

If the season had started in January, then there is no doubt we would be up with you boys in the top few. Recently we have had a few draws but these were pretty much after survival was guaranteed. In general we are playing well with no pressure on us really.
 
What style of play do Preston use?

Irvine has brought a good footballing approach to the team. We pass the ball well, although creatively we will need to bring in one or two players in the summer. First and foremost our defence has improved and we press the opposition very hard.

What are Preston's strengths and weaknesses?
 
We are a well organised side now and seem to be disciplined. We have also found a pairing up front in Brown and Mellor who work well and can score goals.

We lack any real creativity on the wings and have found it hard throughout the season. We are also prone to conceding late goals as well.

Which players should City fans watch out for and why?

Since signing in January, Chris Brown has really stood out up front. He holds the ball up well and brings the rest of the team into play. He also defends from the front.

What's your opinion of Alan Irvine?  Is he doing a good job?

Considering we were bottom in January and then secured safety with some three games to go, he has done a fantastic job. There is more to come, I feel, once he has had a chance to work with the players and bring in new blood in pre-season. We have become a side that is more determined and we're making fewer mistakes.

Matt Hill is fondly remembered for his 110% commitment and for playing with a smile on his face. Do Preston fans love him too?

Matty was player of the season, last season and rightly so. He is a fantastic player, but unfortunately has been kept out of the side for the majority of the season due to an equally impressive Davidson. Hill will always keep going no matter what.

With Bristol City set to be in the play-offs what words of advice can you offer based on Preston's experiences?

Well we have the worst record of any team in the Football League in the play-offs, so I don't know if my advice would be any good! We have had eight attempts and eight failures! I think you just have to enjoy the atmosphere because it is usually electric with both sides desperately wanting to win. Losing is the worst feeling in the world but at the end of the day only one team from four can go up.

Deepdale is something of a fortress. What makes it so difficult for away teams to get a result?

I think we make it hard for teams to break us down. We are more resilient and make it difficult for teams to play against us.

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