Saturday Championship Tips: Preston to outclass the Millers

Preston manager Alex Neil
Alex Neil will be expecting his side to make it back-to-back wins on their travels

Preston have won each of their last four matches on the road, and Jack Critchley believes that PNE can continue their remarkable away form in South Yorkshire...

"Preston remain unbeaten on their travels despite facing two of the current top three, as well as last seasons beaten play-off finalists Brentford"

Back-to-back away defeats for Warne's warriors

Rotherham 3.211/5 v Preston 2.3611/8; The Draw 3.39/4
Saturday, 15:00

Rotherham slipped to a second consecutive Championship defeat in midweek, losing 1-0 to Luton on Wednesday evening. The Millers had the better of the first half, and fashioned several decent opportunities, but their lack of composure in the final third proved to be their undoing once again. They had four of their five shots on target before the break, with manager Paul Warne bemoaning his side's inability to capitalise on their early dominance. The South Yorkshire side have scored just three times in the last four matches, with all of those efforts arriving within a 40 minute spell.

Unfortunately, their strikers are currently firing blanks, with each of the club's last four goals arriving from midfield. Freddie Ladapo is far too erratic for this level, whilst Michael Smith looked a little uninterested and struggled to get into the game on Wednesday evening. Fans are calling for the club to splash out on a natural goalscorer in January, although that's often easier said than done, especially with belts currently being tightened across the EFL. With ten games played, Warne's men have now scored fewer goals than at this stage two seasons ago, a campaign which ended in relegation from the second tier.

Although they are far better at home, Rotherham's inability to see matches out has become incredibly frustrating for supporters. At the New York Stadium, they have taken the lead on three occasions, yet they have twice been pegged back allowing both Huddersfield and Norwich to find a way back into the game. They are averaging just one goal per match at home, and they simply must find a way of increasing that total if they have any hopes of avoiding an immediate return to League One.

Preston's superb run of form on the road continued on Wednesday night as they swatted aside table-topping Reading courtesy of three second half goals. Alex Neil hailed his side's victory as the 'perfect response' to successive home defeats, although their struggles at Deepdale remain an obvious concern. Emil Riis was fantastic once again, and his first goal in English football was the perfect reward for yet another industrious performance. Ryan Ledson and Alan Browne impressed in the centre of the park, whilst Scott Sinclair and Brad Potts also got on the scoresheet.

Although they can't buy a win in Lancashire, PNE's form on the road is brilliant, and they've now won four of their last five away trips. They remain unbeaten on their travels despite facing two of the current top three, as well as last seasons beaten play-off finalists Brentford. They've netted 13 times away from Deepdale, two more than free-scoring Blackburn Rovers. Although there are injury concerns over Patrick Bauer and Andrew Hughes, the Lancastrians should be suitably well-stocked in the final third for this fixture, and Rotherham could struggle to contain their movement. They are playing with confidence on the road, and although their unbelievable run of form will inevitably end at some point, it's hard to envisage them slipping up here.

Preston are the favourites for this contest, although there is still enough value at 2.3611/8 on the Exchange. Alex Neil's men have beaten some tough opposition on the road already this season, and they shouldn't have too many problems overcoming low-scoring Rotherham.

Wycombe to extend their unbeaten run

Nottingham Forest 1.664/6 v Wycombe 6.25/1; The Draw 3.953/1
Saturday, 15:00

Although they left it late to see off Coventry on Wednesday night, fans remain largely unconvinced by Forests' recent performances. Some supporters took to social media to express their sympathy for the Sky Blues, who had the better of the second half, and thoroughly deserved to take something home from the City Ground. Even Chris Hughton wasn't sure whether his side were good enough to take all three points, despite subsequently admitting that he'll 'take it'.

It was the first time since the appointment of the former Brighton manager that the Tricky Trees have scored more than a single goal in a game, although they did require an injury time penalty in order to secure this much-needed victory. Forest enjoyed the better of the first half, although they have often struggled to maintain these high standards across the full 90 minutes in recent weeks. Under Hughton, the East Midlanders have suffered just a single defeat, and they have become much tougher to beat, however, they haven't always been able to find a cutting edge in the final third. Although Scott McKenna has undoubtedly improved their back-line since his arrival from Aberdeen, they are without a clean sheet in their last five, and are yet to keep the opposition off the scoresheet at this venue.

They've picked up five points at home so far this season, although they've all come against teams who are currently occupying positions in the bottom five. If they are to start climbing the table, Forest must learn make start games with more urgency. They've fallen behind in four of their five home matches, and have spent a grand total of just five minutes in the lead at the City Ground so far.

Despite Gareth Ainsworth's continued absence, Wycombe managed to pick up their second Championship victory of the campaign on Wednesday night. Despite falling behind, the Chairboys mounted a second half comeback to turn the tables on low-scoring Birmingham at St.Andrews. The Buckinghamshire side have a similar problem to this weekend's hosts, and have yet to take the lead in any match this season.

The newly-promoted side have been widely written off by pundits and opposition managers over the last couple of months, but they have team spirit in abundance, and they are now three unbeaten in the second tier. Although they have been out-shot in the majority of those contests, they have stuck to their game plan, and have deservedly taken something from each of their last three outings. After being on the wrong end of some bizarre refereeing decisions, Wycombe fans may finally feel as though their club is starting to get the rub of the green, and as a result, is managing to hold its own in this hugely competitive division.

Joe Jacobson was once again the standout performer in midweek, although Curtis Thompson put in another accomplished display and Adebayo Akinfenwa continues to show that he can be a real nuisance at this level.

Wycombe should have enough character to get something from this game, and they can be backed at 5/4 Double Chance on the Sportsbook. Despite their midweek victory, Forest haven't been particularly convincing lately, and the visitors stand a decent chance of making it four unbeaten on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams to find the net at Vicarage Road

Watford 1.684/6 v Coventry 5.59/2; The Draw 3.9
Saturday, 15:00

At the beginning of the campaign, Watford were praised for their defensive solidity with Vladimir Ivic's side opening the season with four clean sheets in their first five matches. However, throughout October, the Hornets gradually became far less reliable in this area of the field, and they head into this fixture having conceded in each of their last five outings.

On Wednesday night, they required a last-minute winner from Ismaila Sarr to secure all three points against Stoke at Vicarage Road. Ivic continues to talk about his team 'working hard', and once again, refused to pick out individual performances. It is obvious that there is a togetherness about the former Premier League side this season, and although they aren't quite as defensively resolute, they are still going to be tough to beat this year. They are still yet to lose here, and have beaten some decent sides including Middlesbrough and away-specialists Luton.

Coventry put in a superb performance against Nottingham Forest in midweek, yet somehow left with nothing to show for their efforts. The Sky Blues were the better side in the second half, and even managed to rattle the woodwork. Mark Robins admitted that his side 'shot themselves in the foot' by conceding a late penalty, and he'll be hoping that they can bounce back on Saturday afternoon. Both of their victories have come at St.Andrews, and they've both been by the same scoreline (3-2). Away from home, they've picked up just a single point so far, although they've been competitive in the majority of those fixtures, and they've looked far more threatening since switching to two up front.

The visitors have shown enough quality in the final third to get on the scoresheet here, and their performance against Reading proved that they aren't afraid to take the initiative in games. BTTS has landed in 60% of Watford home games this season, and at Evens on the Sportsbook, it looks worth backing once again this weekend.

You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7

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