Preston and Derby go head-to-head on Wednesday night as the race for a place in the Championship play-offs hots up and Mark O'Haire is here looking to continue his tipping hotstreak...
"Derby were languishing in the Championship’s bottom-half on New Year’s Day, although the arrival of Wayne Rooney has sparked an eye-catching resurgence"
Preston v Derby
Wednesday July 1, 17:00
Live on Sky Sports
Preston fail to fire
Preston surrendered their position in the Championship's play-off places on Saturday as the Lilywhites were beaten 3-1 at Deepdale by fellow promotion-chasers Cardiff. Alex Neil's outfit edged a first-half lacking in major clear-cut chances and appeared better placed to pinch maximum points as the goalless game hit the hour mark.
Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair produced energetic and probing displays from the flanks without reward and Cardiff grew into the contest, before flexing their muscles with 21 minutes remaining to finally break the deadlock. However, Daniel Johnson equalised seconds later for North End as the match exploded into life during the dying embers.
David Nugent blazed a huge chance over for PNE, only for the capital guests to produce a late double salvo to secure top honours. Post-match, Neil was understandably frustrated, saying: "I think our biggest frustration is we didn't make the best of our opportunities to hurt them" as Preston landed just three of their 14 attempts on-target.
Derby eye-up top-six place
Derby kept up their momentum in the hunt for a Championship play-off place, beating Reading 2-1 at Pride Park to register a fourth successive league victory. A fine strike from Tom Lawrence put the Rams ahead just before the break, and Wayne Rooney made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time as County seized control of the contest.
The Royals were given a lifeline when heading home after the hour following a poor punch by Derby keeper Ben Hamer, who was later called into further action to help preserve a big three points for Phillip Cocu's troops. Lawrence and Reading centre-back Matt Miazga were later both sent off after full-time following a clash just after the final whistle.
The result moves the Rams up to eighth as they chase a third successive top-six finish. Post-match Cocu said: "We are in a position to fight for a play-off spot and that is something we worked hard for together. It is something that has always been in the back of our minds, but we didn't want to talk too much about it." However, Lawrence is now unavailable for Wednesday night's fixture.
Lilywhites make little appeal
Preston are winless in 13 league meetings with Derby dating back to 2008 (W0-D4-L9) with the Lilywhites failing to even score in their last four at Deepdale when welcoming the Rams (W0-D2-L4). North End lost out 1-0 when facing-off against County back in November.
Preston's 2.6413/8 faltering form can be traced back to November's international break. Alex Neil's outfit sat second, averaging 1.94 points per-game from their opening 16 outings. However, only three clubs have earned fewer points than PNE (W7-D5-L11) from the following 23 fixtures with the Lilywhites notching a league-low 21 goals in that spell.
Derby 2.982/1 were languishing in the Championship's bottom-half on New Year's Day, although the arrival of Wayne Rooney has sparked an eye-catching resurgence from the Rams. No second-tier side has collected more points in 2020 (W8-D3-L3) with County also racking up a league-high 30 goals in that impressive 14-game sample.
Preston have been a profitable side to follow for Both Teams To Score (1.80) backers at Deepdale this term with 14/20 (70%) meetings here seeing both sides score. The same selection has provided pay-outs in 12/19 (63%) of Derby's away days suggesting there's mileage in supporting appealing quotes again on Wednesday evening.
Even so, with the hosts silencing just three of their last 23 opponents and County getting on the scoresheet in each of their past 16 outings, I'm happier taking the same 1.804/5 offering available for bang in-form Derby in the Double Chance market, as well as Derby to score Over 0.5 Goals, via Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 147.00 pts
Returned: 167.67 pts
P/L: +20.67 pts