Preston v Stoke
Wednesday August 20, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Profligate finishing costs Preston
Preston manager Alex Neil bemoaned his side's profligate finishing after seeing the Lilywhites surrendered a lead to go down 3-2 at Swansea on Saturday. North End led through Joe Rafferty and could have scored more before conceding right on half-time. Having then fallen behind, Daniel Johnson levelled before PNE conceded a decisive third.
Neil's outfit were dominant in the first half, pressing Swansea high and reaping their rewards. The Lilywhites were deservedly ahead and could have extended their advantage had Billy Bodin or Johnson not wasted presentable opportunities, whilst Ben Davies headed just over. However, PNE weren't able to exert the same pressure after the interval.
Speaking post-match, Neil said, "I don't think there's any question we should have been further in front at the end of the first half. We had three or four golden opportunities that we didn't take, but at this level you are never going to dominate away from home for 90 minutes. Jayden Stockley or Sean Maguire will lead the line on Wednesday with Louis Moult joining David Nugent on the sidelines.
Stoke boss slams misfiring forwards
Stoke boss Nathan Jones blasted his players for chucking away more points on Saturday following a 2-2 draw at home to Derby. The Potters looked set for a hard-fought win after goals from Liam Lindsay and Scott Hogan cancelled out an early goal from the visitors but a penalty 20 minutes from time extended City's winless streak to start the season.
Joe Allen and Tom Ince both struck the woodwork either side of Stoke's equaliser with Allen's miss a particularly glaring one as the Wales midfielder hit the post from three yards. The Potters generated 2.26 Expected Goals (xG) in the game but almost lost their share of the spoils late on with Jack Butland forced into a crucial save in a one-on-one situation.
Jones said, "I am devastated with the result. I am distraught that we couldn't get one more goal than the opposition, because we created twice as many chances. I am sick and tired of us missing chances because this has cost us. We should have six points and instead we have one." Peter Etebo has been tipped for a start and City have no new injury issues.
Honours even in tight tussle
Preston have suffered a solitary defeat in seven recent meetings with Stoke, losing just twice in the last 12 head-to-head encounters (W5-D5-L2). The two teams played out an enjoyable 2-2 draw at Deepdale last term, with North End enjoying a 2-0 triumph in the away contest. The hosts have only lost once here against the Potters since 1998.
Preston 2.466/4 were beaten only five times in front of their home supporters last season (W8-D10-L5), three of which came against top-six teams. The Lilywhites have proven consistent and competitive operators at Deepdale under Alex Neil's tutorship, returning W18-D18-L11 here since the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign.
Stoke 3.052/1 have struggled in games as guests since suffering relegation from the Premier League. The Potters have bagged just three triumphs on their travels in 24 with 13 (54%) of those encounters ending all-square - a repeat can be backed at 3.259/4 on Wednesday night and should prove popular considering the qualities of both teams on display.
Goals tough to call
Only Leeds and Cardiff have tabled a higher Expected Goals (xG) figures across their opening three fixtures than Stoke's 5.17 tally, whilst only six Championship clubs have conceded a lower xG figure thus far than Preston's 2.77. So whilst the duo have seen five of their six combined contests feature Over 2.5 Goals 2.1411/10 a tighter tussle is anticipated at Deepdale.
Taking the two teams' respective home/away records from the start of last season into account, 27/48 (56%) paid out for Both Teams To Score backers and a repeat is available at 1.8910/11. It's proven profitable in four of the clubs' collective six showdowns this term and should offer goals-based punters slightly more value for the midweek meeting.