Preview: Bamber Bridge vs. Preston North End

Preview: Bamber Bridge vs. Preston North End

Preston North End begin their pre-season preparations with a friendly fixture away against non-league local rivals Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Saturday.

The two teams are separated by five divisions in the English football pyramid, with Preston preparing for their ninth straight season in the Championship, while Bamber Bridge are competing in the Northern Premier League.

Following back-to-back 13th-placed finished in the Championship, Preston ended the 2022-23 campaign in 12th spot after winning 17, drawing 12 and losing 17 of their 46 league matches.

The Lilywhites picked up just one point from their final five games of the season which ultimately prevented them from sneaking into the playoff positions, finishing six points behind sixth-placed Sunderland.

Manager Ryan Lowe is tasked with recruiting the right players on a tight budget to strengthen his Preston squad ahead of the 2023-24 season as they endeavour to secure a top-six finish for the first time since returning to the second tier in 2015-16.

Preston have won just four of their 11 away matches since the turn of the year, but Lowe will be confident of kick-starting their pre-season preparations with a positive result on Saturday as the Lilywhites have won each of their last six friendly meetings with Bamber Bridge by an aggregate score of 29-4.

After facing Bamber Bridge, Preston are scheduled to take on Gibraltarian side Magpies, Barrow, Ipswich Town, Aberdeen, Fleetwood Town and Stockport County before beginning the new Championship season away against Bristol City on August 5.

Bamber Bridge, meanwhile, are preparing for a sixth straight season in the Northern Premier League after suffering a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to Warrington Town in the playoff final courtesy of a 90th-minute winner from Isaac Buckley-Ricketts.

The Brig remarkably ended the campaign with a -1 goal difference – a stark contract to champions South Shields (+32), second-placed Warrington (+31) and fourth-placed Gainsborough Trinity (+33) – but securing third spot in the regular season represented their highest finish in the English football pyramid for nearly three decades.

While Jamie Milligan is keen to swiftly move on from their playoff disappointment, the Brig boss has taken plenty of positives from their efforts in 2022-23 and hopes to build a stronger, more experienced squad over the summer that can mount a promotion challenge in the new campaign.

Bamber Bridge were on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline in a pre-season friendly away against Preston last year, although they managed to frustrate the Championship outfit for 50 minutes before the deadlock was broken by a Ben Whiteman penalty; Ben Woodburn and Mikey O’Neill were also on the scoresheet for the hosts.

Bamber Bridge form (all competitions):

Preston North End form (all competitions):

We say: Bamber Bridge 0-3 Preston North End
Both teams will be keen to make a positive start to pre-season, but it is difficult to back against a Preston side who should have few problems securing a comfortable victory on Saturday.

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