Preston up next as Baggies look for second win of the year

After recording their first victory of 2022, Valérien Ismaël’s team will be looking to build on it with another home victory against bottom half opposition when Ryan Lowe’s Preston North End visit the Hawthorns on Wednesday evening to play the game that was postponed due to COVID cases at Deepdale in late December.

Saturday’s victory over Peterborough was comprehensive and deserved, even if all three goals came in the last eleven minutes. The feeling in the stands would have been much different had Daryl Dike taken one of his early opportunities and an early goal will once again be crucial if Albion are to have a less frustrating experience.

First half goals have been a problem for the Baggies at the Hawthorns this season. Of the 21 goals that they have scored at home, only five have been scored before the break with those coming in just three games. Albion led Luton Town 2-0 at the break in the opening home match and led Sheffield United 1-0 four days later. The only other home game with a first half goal was against Bristol City in October when they again led 2-0 at half time, so it is little wonder that the home fans have become frustrated. On the positive side, if the Baggies do lead at the break, they tend to win having done so on six out of the seven occasions they have held a half time advantage this season – the only time they have failed to hold on was at Swansea City in October.

Daryl Dike had opportunities to get that first half goal last weekend, but it will be his last chance for while with the news that the hamstring injury he picked up in the second half is likely to keep him out for eight weeks. It is desperately unfortunate news both for the player, and also for the club’s promotion chances given the importance that had been placed on the American’s signing. It may well mean that Ismaël will look to dip into the loan market before the window closes next Monday to bring in a similar type of striker, but it is a massive blow.

However, it should not be forgotten that Albion managed to score three goals without him on Saturday, and the hope is that the confidence gained from that will carry on into the next match, but Dike’s long term absence is bound to have an effect on the squad as a whole.

Dike is the only new injury issue for Big Val, and he can welcome Sam Johnstone and Alex Mowatt back into the side after they have completed their suspensions. Button has done well in goal in Johnstone’s absence and it will be a harsh decision to drop him, but that is what I expect to happen.

Mowatt, on the other hand, has been missed. He hasn’t been at the top of his form recently, but if he can recover that, he offers a balance of steel and creativity that none of Albion’s other options in central midfield can match. Livermore had a good game against Preston and, assuming he can physically produce the same level, I expect him to be Mowatt’s partner on Wednesday evening.

Ismaël made what be could considered an “attacking substitution” against Posh whereby Clarke was withdrawn to drop Townsend into the back three – with the opposition offering little ambition, one of either Clarke or Kipré were getting forward regularly and Val obviously felt Townsend could be more effective in this role given his better ability on the ball. It may be an option to start this way on Wednesday but I suspect the starting back three will remain unchanged.

Dike’s injury means that there will need to be a change up front, and Diangana’s impressive display from the bench means that it is not a straightforward decision. In my view, Matt Phillips is probably the best option of those available to play through the middle given his strength and hold up play, while Karlan Grant has probably been the most consistent of the front players this season. That would mean a straight swap between Diangana and Robinson who both impressed as substitutes against Peterborough. I would lean towards Grady as it would be a much-needed boost to his confidence and much-warranted after his impactful performance on Saturday.

Preston North End are still getting used to life under new boss, Ryan Lowe, who took over from Frankie McAvoy in early December. The Lilywhites won his first two games in charge at home to Barnsley and away to Stoke City, albeit those two matches were separated by three weeks due to COVID postponements. However, they have failed to win in any of the four games since losing twice in south Wales, once to Cardiff City in the FA Cup and then last week at Swansea City in the league. His other two games in charge were home draws with Birmingham City and Sheffield United.

Lowe played more almost 600 league appearances for clubs in the bottom two divisions and started his managerial career at Bury, the club at which he had three spells and finished his league career. He won promotion back to League One in his first season in charge, but then moved back into League Two to take on Plymouth Argyle in June 2019 thus avoiding Bury’s demise in November 2020. He repeated his achievement with another third place finish and promotion to League One and left Home Park with Argyle in fourth place in League One. Based on this, Preston look to have one of the league’s up-and-coming coaching prospects.

North End have, this week, managed to secure the loan signing of striker, Cameron Archer, from Aston Villa. He has made a few substitute appearances in the Premier League this season but came to prominence when he scored a hat trick in Villa’s 6-0 EFL Cup win over Barrow and he also scored in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the next round.

A motivated Villa loanee aside, this is another game that Albion should be winning comfortably. Preston haven’t been in the top half of the table at all this season and, if the Baggies are serious about challenging the top two, another three points is the only acceptable result.


Of the thirteen victories that Preston North End have achieved on Albion soil, all but one was before the Second World War. North End were one of the major forces in English football in the nineteenth century although the Baggies did give them the odd bloody nose such as in the 1888 FA Cup Final. However, the Lilywhites were unbeaten on their first five league visits to Stoney Lane, the ground at which Albion started life in the Football League, winning four of them, and it wasn’t until December 1893 that the Baggies were able to inflict a first league defeat on Preston, a 2-0 victory thanks to a brace from Oliver Norman.

Preston won at the Hawthorns on four occasions between the wars, but their only win at the Shrine since 1936 was in a Division Two fixture in September 1973 during Bobby Charlton’s brief time as a manager; goals from Mel Holden and Alex Bruce earned the visitors a 2-0 victory. The next meeting at the Hawthorns was in the League Cup in 1980 which finished goalless and Albion have beaten North End on each of their subsequent eleven visits to B71.

The Baggies have scored four goals in home matches with Preston on six occasions but only once have they managed to win 4-0, in January 1960 when an own goal was added to by strikes from Alec Jackson, Derek Kevan and Ronnie Allen. Three of the other occasions saw the Baggies win 4-1, one ended 4-2, while one remarkable game in 1895 ended in a 5-4 win for the visitors.

One of the 4-1 wins was as recently as April 2019 when Dwight Gayle’s hat-trick was added to by Jay Rodriguez to secure the points for Jimmy Shan’s side – current Baggie Callum Robinson scored a stoppage time consolation goal for the visitors.

The Lilywhites best win at Albion was in the first Football League season – the Baggies may have beaten them in the cup final the previous April, but that Preston side became known as the Invincibles as they remained unbeaten throughout the league season include a 5-0 win at Stoney Lane. Their biggest win at the Hawthorns was 3-0 in March 1921.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion D L D L L W
Preston North End W W L D D L

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

18 Sep 2021 – League Championship
Preston North End 1 (Whiteman)
West Brom 1 (Phillips)

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

25 Feb 2020 – League Championship
West Brom 2 (Robson-Kanu, Livermore)
Preston North End 0

Last win

25 Feb 2020 – League Championship
West Brom 2 (Robson-Kanu, Livermore)
Preston North End 0

Albion’s Record against Preston North End

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 103 41 25 37 150 153   51 27 11 13 92 64
FA Cup 8 6 0 2 14 9   2 2 0 0 3 0
League Cup 4 2 2 0 4 2   2 1 1 0 2 1
Total 115 49 27 39 168 164   55 30 12 13 97 65

If you cannot see the tables, click here.

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