A fan’s preview - Preston North End v Stevenage

Stevenage FC

Stevenage FC - Credit: Archant

Graham Westley to take Boro to face his former side today

Despite the fact that our paths had never crossed until the 2011/12 season, and the fact we’re situated hundreds of miles apart, the match up of Preston and Stevenage has the potential to feel a little bit like a derby. Probably more for them than us, granted.

Graham Westley’s move to, and departure from, Preston was well documented and whilst he’ll tell you he did brilliant things in cutting their wage bill, he’d also openly admit that things didn’t go well for him there in a footballing sense.

In truth, he was on to a bit of a loser from the start but their fans will always hold him in deep disdain and that’s what will make this a lively encounter - it’s a clash of a club that adores Graham Westley with a club who, well, just doesn’t.

In the hearts and minds of Preston fans, losing to a Westley-led Stevenage does not bear thinking about and in the heart and mind of Westley (and therefore in the hearts and minds of the team he puts out) losing to the club who parted waves with him a few short months ago will be equally as depressing a thought.

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Historically, the matches between the two clubs haven’t been overly enthralling. Two draws in the first two encounters; a dour 0-0 at their place followed up by a 1-1 draw on Westley’s first return to Boro in the away dugout were followed up by two defeats last season.

The first saw Westley mastermind a comprehensive and crushing 4-1 defeat over Gary Smith’s hapless Stevenage side before dealing it a further blow by brushing us aside 2-0 up at Deepdale to push us further down an already depressing looking league table.

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The Stevenage side of this season though is a very different proposition albeit one that is still in a state of flux with regard to a regular and first choice starting XI, and they will be hoping that our encounters this year are far more fruitful.

Buoyed by our performances at Everton and at Tranmere, the return to fitness of Sam Wedgbury and the continued gelling of this new squad, who’s to argue that we won’t be a far tougher obstacle?

Stevenage sides under Westley have always managed to put it in when it counts and despite the fact that Westley will sell this as just another game, he’ll be itching to get one over on Preston. I certainly wouldn’t back against us doing it.

* Mark Hollis is the press officer for Stevenage Supporters’ Association. You can find out more about them at http://www.sa4sbfc.co.uk/home/

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