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The Preston View

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 11/08/2000

In our pre-match previews we will be bringing to you the opposition's views on the match and the Mariners. The Fishy asked the Preston Rivals site their views on drawing the Mariners in their first game and who we should be fearing in their team.

"Being truthful, we don't think too many PNE fans were exactly overjoyed when the fixture list came out and they saw Grimsby away as the first game of the season.

Bearing in mind that this is our first time back in the top two divisions for about 20 years, we were all hoping for a home tie, preferably against someone like Blackburn.

However North End's travelling support always enjoy a party, and the game itself should be a good yardstick of how PNE can expect to fare this season.

Despite high optimism from last year's championship, most Northenders would probably accept a year of consolidation.

PNE will be without their hugely influential central defender Michael Jackson, which may well prove to be our downfall this weekend. With an attack that has been less than impressive in pre-season, we'll be hoping that whoever stands in at the back (it might be the skipper Sean Gregan) manages to keep things tight.

However David Moyes has swooped for at least one new striker this week - 18 year-old Bermudian Steve Astwood - although he is only likely to be on the bench.

PNE players to watch out for -

  • Sean Gregan (captain and influential midfielder, may play in central defence)
  • Iain Anderson (Scottish U21 winger, signed this summer for 500k)
  • Jon Macken (last season's top scorer, slightly out of form in pre-season)"

Further questions:

Fishy: What are PNE fans expecting from a visit to Grimsby in terms of atmosphere and hospitality?

Speaking personally I've always found the atmosphere at Grimsby to be quite lively, and the PNE fans will be in party mood so it should be a good afternoon. North End don't normally bring any troublemakers so it should be a loud but friendly atmosphere.

Fishy: How do you think Preston are going to do this season (and Grimsby for that matter)

It's really hard to say since we haven't been in this division for so long. Before our pre-season games I'd have confidently predicted at least a mid-table position, if not better, but now I reckon survival would be a good start. Hopefully both PNE and Grimsby will manage to steer well clear of the relegation dogfight... but I'm not so sure!

Fishy: How big do you think the step up is from the 2nd to 1st division. A few teams have struggled in recent years, although not all.

This is why it's so hard to predict... Man City didn't strike me as a great side when they came up from Division Two, but look where they are now. The same goes for Watford. The step up is certainly nowhere near as big as from Div One to the Premiership; the main difference in Div One compared to the Second is probably the quality of the stadiums and the size of the crowds.

Fishy: Who do you fancy to do well in the first division this year and where do you think Preston and Grimsby will finish?

I fancy Birmingham to do well, and probably Fulham. Much as I hate to say it, Blackburn can't be as bad as last season either. I reckon PNE and Grimsby will probably both end up lower-mid table. 17th or thereabouts.

Fishy: Prediction for the score on Saturday?

0-0? We've not been scoring many goals in pre-season and the first match of a new campaign often turns out to be an anti-climax. On the other hand I'd like to be confident and say a comfortable 3-0 to PNE!

Fishy: How many of the Grimsby squad on Saturday do you think you will have heard of and who (if any) do you most fear?

I don't think too many of the Grimsby side will be well known to PNE fans, especially now Ashcroft has gone. Off the top of my head, the main ones I can think of are Kingsley Black and Daryl Clare. I also remember hearing something about a good youngster called something like Butterfield.

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