Preston – time for a clean sheet

When Preston beat Charlton at The Valley on 3rd November the three points they gained meant that they went to the top of The Championship.

After home wins against QPR and Luton they were still in third place in mid December but the last few weeks have seen a slump in results and, after gaining only three points out of fifteen, they host Saturday's game at Deepdale having dropped right down to tenth.

Those three points have all been won on their travels through impressive draws at Cardiff (0-0), Leeds (1-1) and Blackburn (1-1). At home, however, they have lost 0-2 to bottom half teams Reading and Middlesboro in addition to being knocked out of the FA Cup 2-4 by Norwich.

Charlton's record at Deepdale is horrific. Supporters who made the journey there in November 2007 to see a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Zheng Zhi and Luke Varney were witnessing an extremely rare event. You have to go back eighteen games and 53 years to October 1954 to find the previous win for the visitors. Since that 2007 victory we have played three more games at Deepdale -  losing two and drawing one. If anyone reading this has seen us win more than once up there we'd really like to hear from you. We'd be honoured to present you with a cake or something.*

Preston's winner at The Valley in November was scored from the penalty spot by the second most interesting penalty taker in The Championship - Paul Gallagher. It seems extraordinary that Gallagher was also in the Preston team we beat in 2007 while Charlton players from that game (Iwelumo, Weaver, Basey etc) seem to belong to a bygone era. At that time he was on loan from Blackburn and playing alongside a young Andy Carroll who had been loaned by Newcastle. After six years at Leicester he came back to Preston in 2015 and has now over 250 appearances for the club.

Preston have moved this week to revitalise their top six push by signing Scott Sinclair from Celtic. Charlton fans will surely struggle to recall much about his underwhelming loan spell with us in 2008 when he made just three appearances from the bench before being recalled by Chelsea and sent out to Palace instead. And now it has happened again with Conor Gallagher off to Swansea via the Chelsea training ground. We and the team will miss him greatly but it has been a real privilege over the last five months to be able to admire such a prodigious talent.

Andre Green only played for 141 minutes during his loan at Preston in the first half of the season. He has put in nearly that amount of time for us already and would obviously dearly love to score against his former team mates. Josh Davison - who was a revelation against Charlton old boy Semi Ajayi last Saturday - will be keen to see whether Patrick Bauer has any answers to his bustling style. The game is likely to come just too soon for Johnnie Williams to be in the starting line up so our midfield will once again be threadbare in terms of creativity. The news that Josh Cullen might make the squad is at least encouraging for next month. However, it is in defence that improvement is sorely needed. It is now three months and sixteen games since the team's last clean sheet.

There would be much to celebrate in a dull 0-0 draw and an extension of our unbeaten run under East Street Investments.

* come to our stall before the Barnsley game. Bring a cake.