Preston pinch the points at Boro
Preston came from behind to shock Middlesbrough with a smash-and-grab performance at the Riverside Stadium in the Championship on Tuesday night. Having fallen behind in the first-half, and largely been under the cosh, Ched Evans‘ header from a corner levelled proceedings in the 77th minute before Emil Riis Jakobsen smashed home the winner.
Lilywhites’ goalkeeper Daniel Iverson was arguably PNE’s most influential performer on the night as the visitors were out-shot 18-7 and Frankie McAvoy‘s side scored from their only two on-target efforts on the night. The victory ended a run of two consecutive defeats and moved Preston nine points clear of the dreaded drop zone.
Understandably, McAvoy was overjoyed with the win post-match, saying: “I always felt if we could get a goal we’d go on to win the game. We got fortunate. Their player makes a mistake at the end. He passes it to our player. But it’s a good finish. The biggest thing is the team spirit. I felt like we showed that again on the night and now we move onto Saturday.”
Fulham lack clinical edge
League leaders Fulham were held to a goalless draw by Derby on Wednesday night despite almost one-way traffic at Craven Cottage. In an entertaining first half, Jean Michael Seri hit the post for the Cottagers, and Marco Silva‘s men continued to dominate after the break with Fabio Carvalho hitting the woodwork and the visitors making last-ditch clearances.
The 0-0 draw ended the Whites’ seven-match winning run and coincided with a bout of illness in the Fulham camp that saw the Championship’s leading goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic miss out. And the hosts certainly missed the Serbian’s killer instinct in front of goal as they landed only five attempts on-target from 21 shots in a one-sided affair.
Speaking post-match, Silva said: “Nothing to do with Covid, but we have six or seven players affected (with illness) – some who could play tonight and some who couldn’t. It definitely wasn’t our best performance. We are not happy because we didn’t win the game. We created so many chances. It’s something that can happen.”
Preston have posted a solitary success in their last nine league matches with Fulham (W1-D3-L5), although that triumph came in the duo’s last meeting at Deepdale in December 2019. That victory is also PNE’s only win in six home head-to-head contests with the Cottagers (W1-D1-L4), although the hosts have scored in 16 of their last 17 here against Fulham.
Preston 4.407/2 opened their campaign with three straight defeats but Frankie McAvoy’s men have recovered reasonably well, returning W6-D6-L4 in their following 16 fixtures to move into mid-table. The Lilywhites’ Deepdale form remains key with the hosts earning W4-D3-L1 here during that 16-game sample, avoiding defeat in five games against top-half opposition.
Fulham 1.8910/11 have kicked into gear following October’s international break, dropping just two points from a possible 24. The Cottagers’ consistently strong performances have seen Marco Silva’s side move to the top of the Championship, and the Whites also rank as the league’s best for Expected Points (xP) and Expected Goals (xG) supremacy this term.
Fulham have been great fun to follow this season with their midweek goalless draw against Derby the first time the Cottagers have played out a 0-0 under Marco Silva. Matches have averaged 3.32 goals with away days seeing the goals per-game increase to 3.78. Six of the Whites’ nine road trips have produced Over 2.5 Goals 1.9420/21 profit.
The Londoners themselves are averaging 2.53 goals and should be encouraged by the fact Preston are yet to keep their sheets clean against a top-10 opponent this term. Considering Fulham have scored Over 1.5 Goals in seven of their most recent 10 league tussles, and Aleksandar Mitrovic due to return, backing a repeat appeals at 1.834/5 on Saturday.