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Preston are back in the Championship. Billy Grant caught up with Preston Fan David Bryant (@davidbryant95) to get the low down on Preston’s season so far …  and whether he fancies PNE picking up points down at Griffin Park. 

It’s been a couple years since the gentry were in town. Last match we played, you were celebrating gentry day and we were celebrating promotion from Division 1. You experienced our joy the following season with your own promotion. How good was that season for PNE fans?

It was certainly one of the strangest seasons I’ve witnessed as a Preston fan, with highs and lows in abundance. We were well on track for Automatic promotion until Joe Garner got injured in a 1-0 away win v Brizzle City in November.

This lead to a poor run on form which lasted until February, at which stage we were just hoping to remain in the top 6.

Garner returned and we began winning games for fun and we stormed into the top two, which was where we stayed for a good two months before dropping out on the final game of the season at the expense on MK Franchise.

It was devastating and moral was so low that no one gave us a chance in the Play-offs. Football is a strange game however and a few weeks later we were celebrating breaking our play-off hoodoo at Wembley after a 4-0 victory – the first Promotion I’ve ever witnessed.

This season you have found it a bit tough. A win against Franchise FC aka MK Dons. Draws against Boro, Rotherham and Bristol City. Losses against Ipswich, Hull and Derby. Has the step up been harder than you thought??

I hoped the momentum following promotion would carry us through some tough games against clubs spending ridiculous amounts. However, that hasn’t been the case and we’ve really struggled against quality opposition.

But we need to be realistic. We all know that we’re performing under a shoe-string budget. We shouldn’t expect the step-up to be easy.

Your goalkeeper Jordan Pickford – on loan from Sunderland – has been playing a blinder – keeping you in the game for a few matches. Is that a bad sign when your goalkeeper is getting man of the match do you think … or is he that good?

Back in League 1, we were winning games consistently for two years straight. During this time, our numerous goalkeepers had barely anything to do – maybe two saves a game on a bad day.

At one stage we kept 10 clean sheets from 12 games.

With this in mind, the fact that Pickford is having to save our backsides so often this season shows the weakness of our side in this division.

You look at the sides relegated from the Premiership in recent years. Cardiff relegated in 2013/14, David Marshall was praised week in week out on Match of the Day. Burnley & QPR relegated last season, Tom Heaton and Rob Green both selected for England in the summer.

So there’s a clear correlation between a poorly performing team and a highly praised goalkeeper. The fact that Pickford is receiving so much praise says a lot about or current predicament which is very worrying indeed.

Garner scored a shed load goals in Division 1. Some players do well in Div 1 but can’t up the ante in championship. Is he just having a slow start?

The jury is well and truly out on Joe Garner’s goal-scoring ability in the Championship. He has failed at this level for his previous clubs but as a fan base, on the whole we were very confident that he’d manage just fine. We really hoped the extra few years he spent with us in League 1 would improve his game.

So far this season however he has been largely anonymous – albeit he has hit the woodwork on a few occasions. He’s not the type of player to suffer from a lack of confidence but he’s receiving a lot less protection from Championship referee’s which is proving to be an issue.

Overall I doubt Brentford fans will need to worry about Garner and I’m sure Tarkowski will have him in his back pocket (maybe that will be the case if Garner is sitting in the stands with Tarky – Ed).

Daniel Johnson – your centre midfilder – is one of the players Brentford were eying up last season but for various reasons, we didn’t get him in last January. How’s he started for you?

Yes indeed DJ was prepared to drop down a division to League 1 in order to live the glamorous life up North. DJ has been one of the few players this season to step up to the mark for us and he’s our top goal-scorer so far with 2 goals.

He’s got pace, flare and creativity so if there’s anyone in the Preston team Brentford should be wary of it’s Daniel Johnson.

Grayson loves to play a 5-3-2 formation. Some of the PNE fans say that formation is not working. Do you think he’ll change it up this match?

It’s either a 5-3-2 or a 3-5-2 formation but who knows, I doubt even the players do. But in actual fact the formation is pretty effective away from home as it allows to pack out the midfield which sure I’m pretty is Simon Graysons fetish. However when we play this formation at home it really does lack effectiveness.

The game on Saturday .. it’s a game both sides really need to win after a stuttering start. Do you think Grayson will be able to fire up the troops and get a result?

Grayson will have his work cut out to fire up the troops as confidence is pretty low at the minute. It was there to be seen at home to Bristol City on Tuesday when we should have been beaten by 3 or 4 goals. It was a miracle that we managed to take a point from that fixture.

I think it would be fair to say Saturday is all about the first goal.

North End haven’t conceded first and won since the 2nd October 2014 – a 3-2 win against Fleetwood. We also haven’t conceded first and lost in the League since 12th February 2013 – in a 3-1 defeat away at Yeovil which lead to the sacking of Graham Westley.

Score prediction?

1-0 Brentford

Drinking in Brentford

For Preston fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming. Colours are fine and there is no ‘bouncer culture’ on the doors of our boozers – not yet anyway. All fans are welcome and most fans usually cite Brentford as their favourite away-day which we’re quite proud of.

As is etched in common folklore , there were four pubs around the ground – unfortunately one closed down last season but rumours has it, it has opened up again in the last couple of weeks or so. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option. The Royal Oak was the one that closed down … it may be re-opened.

Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) the  … The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the pub where the Preston Gentry convened last season – a very friendly pub indeed. The other boozer is The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd)  – both incredibly friendly and cozy away-frienly pubs and 30 seconds walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Boro fans and Bees fans had one hell of a party before and after the match in both these boozers (despite us losing)- and The Plough (Northfields Ave – 1 minute walk from the tube) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route on the Northfields pub crawl).

Easily the best way to Brentford is to get the Victoria line from Euston to Green Park and the Piccadilly line from Green Park to either Northfields or South Ealing (35 mins). Northfields is preferred by fans in the know as it has a decent pub crawl run on the way to the ground (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe). South Ealing has one posh pub en route that doesn’t really like football fans so we won’t even give it a mention here. It’s 20 mins walk from either South Ealing OR Northfields to the ground or you can get the E2 bus from Northfields or 65 bus from South Ealing for the short 5 minute journey.

Some fans prefer to take the tube to Vauxhall then get the overground to Brentford mainline station. Depending on your connection time, this could be a slightly longer route as you could be waiting for up to 15 mins for a train and the train takes 26 mins to Brentford. Including your connection from Kings Cross this journey could take you the best part of an hour as opposed to under 40 minutes (plus the journey to the ground).

If you do take this route, there is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … er …  the Pub by Brentford station.

For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. Great views over The Thames. It’s around 15 mins walk to the ground from here.

There are loads more too. A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.

Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Rd or Windmill Rd.