A 3-1 win at home to Watford ended the season with a bit of an upper putting PNE in 22nd joint place by goal difference with Scunthorpe and Sheffield Utd.
Final Table: 22nd place Preston
P46 Home W7 D4 L12 F27 A36 Away W3 D8 L12 F27 A43 Pts 42 GD -25
21st place Doncaster 48pts, GD -26.
With their superior goal difference PNE would have stayed up with 6 more points. Losing 12 games at home is a poor showing, all those games where PNE led but lost in the last 15 minutes.
Promoted QPR and Norwich. Play-offs; Swansea, Cardiff, Reading, Nottingham Forest.
Who is coming down. It's between bottom WHU, Wigan, Blackpool, Wolves, Birmingham, Blackburn and should go to the last game. Wolves v Blackburn, Wigan v WHU, Blackpool and Blackburn play Manchester Utd. It's a tight call.
Brighton and Southampton moving up. Huddersfield, Peterborough, MK Dons and Bournemouth in the play offs. Huddersfield are a long way ahead of 4th and Bournemouth are quite a way below MK Dons. Form would say Huddersfield but we'll see.
Who will remain at PNE. Phil Brown looks set to stay which is good.
PNE's average home gate was 11,904 the 3rd lowest. Such an average will make them 4th highest in League 1. TV money will be around £4m less in League 1 which must be equivalent to the total gate money at Preston. As PNE are in debt to Trevor Hemmings some cloth cutting is likely.
On the 25th April all the results went against PNE and by losing 1-0 at home to Cardiff relegation became a mathematical fact. A further defeat at Ipswich on the 30th and it looked like PNE would be bottom.
As suspected the Scunthorpe game was a win, and the one after. If the Scunthorpe game had been played on its planned date would a turn round have come earlier. PNE are now looking highly probable to go down but it's not over yet and there is more optimism about the teams performance.
April 2nd update: PNE 2 Swansea 1. Dampening Swanseas automatic promotion hopes, a great result lifting PNE off the bottom for the first time for 5 months. Crystal Palace won making PNE still 8 points from safety and maybe Doncaster / Derby should be the target 10 points away.
PNE have a game in hand but with 8 games to go and at least 8 points to make up. Reading away is tough they are 6th and 2 away games after that. In reality only Reading and Cardiff are very dangerous opponents in the games remaining. Although if they get only 1 point from the next 2 away games then the season is almost finished by next Saturday night although looking at Palaces fixtures only 3 points look certain so on the upside 15 points out of 24 might just be enough assuming Sheff U don't improve.
Not yet bringing home the bacon, no wins since 11th December. February was a tough month playing all the top teams and didn’t do too badly with some score draws. Disappointingly losing at home to Burnley at the end of the month after being ahead. If points were awarded for scoring the first goal PNE would be top of the league. Yet they can’t hang on to the lead.
It seems the team is improved although the loaned players aren’t showing much success up front. With 13 games to go PNE are 11 points adrift and getting that magic 54pts means winning 10 of those games although a bit less might do. Not impossible but getting to appear that way.
March brings Norwich, Leeds, Reading, Scunthorpe, Coventry. That game against Scunthorpe was due in January and hoped to be the first win which might have added confidence, yet if they'd lost it might have done the opposite.
Phil Brown still has support, some are worrying if he might slip the leash but Preston isn't a bad sized club with a decent ground and I'd think he'd stay on.
Still rooted to the foot of the table, little stirring. Two home draws and an away defeat means 2 points out of 9. A few new players Ellington from Watford, Clarke from QPR, Johnson from Fulham and Ashbee from Hull.
First game against Notts Forest in the cup and lost 1-2 after being in the lead at half-time. Team was: Lonergan, McLaughlin, Morgan, St Ledger, Jones, Mayor, Russell, Nicholson, Carter, Treacy, C Brown. Subs: Coutts, Hayes, Gray, Douglas, Proctor, Wright, Arestidou.
Interesting to see how the team develops, there were a couple of injuries restricting the starting line up, seems be a consensus they're showing more fire although they're still conceding leads.
An 18 month contract for Phil Brown and bringing Brian Horton as assistant manager. This pair have pedigree. Starting on 15th January against Leicester, is it being over excitable to talk of a claw back into a fighting position before launching an assault into the higher regions. Phil seems a guy who loves to party and there should be plenty of interest around the club, no room for grey. Have a good feeling about this one.
December, a traumatic ending. From 3 games due to cancellatons, winning 1 and drawing 1 didn't seem too bad. Yet PNE seem to be throwing away points by silly mistakes and having poor results against teams in a similar position. Millwall then Middlesbrough both 6 pointers and only 1 being gained. The Middlesbrough game being deemed the defeat too far by the board and Darren Ferguson being relieved of his post. The immediate effect was that Alex Ferguson called back 2 loaned players and wanted the longer term loan ended. Then the day after Tony Pulis of Stoke recalled their 2 loaned players. Not that any of the returned players even got onto the substitutes bench of their clubs. David Unsworth has taken over as caretaker while speculation rages about who will be next. Strangely David Unsworth doesn't seem to rate in the odds as his appointment could be just what the club need having appointed 3 managers who have been compensated: Simpson, Irvine and Ferguson. The favourite at the time of writing is Billy Davies which seems a bit far fetched, then Paul Jewell and Phil Brown. Also Burnley are looking for a manager so perm any one of those.
In reality many PNE fans are resigned to relegation and think it will take an exceptional talent to turn things round this season. Allardyce has said he's not interested even on short term. Billy Davies is the only person who might do it but it seems improbable that someone who left several clubs over money for players will give up a club like Notts Forest to come to PNE.
What of Darren Ferguson? He had a good record at Peterborough until the last season so he has a future. In reality many at Preston thought he'd taken on a very difficult job with a squad that was being cut back to save money and for that reason it was thought he'd be kept on. The squad didn't seem very happy and whether that was because of the results or other matters we can't tell, using so many loaned players never gave any stability.
16 games to go, 6 points adrift. Win 10 out of 16 sounds highly improbable but not impossible.
In November loan signings Ritchie De Laet from Manchester United and Danny Pugh and Michael Tonge from Stoke were introduced against QPR. Leon Cort from Burnley debut against Millwall.
Millwall was a clean sheet for the first time since August and the BBC suggested it was Cort who helped that with Sean St Ledger injured.
Overall a bad November. The board supported Darren Ferguson after previous poor results although the draw at home against fellow strugglers Millwall was a doubly bad result. PNE are now 5pts and 7 goals from safety after 19 games. Perhaps the 4 loaned players can improve matters.
A bit of optimism at the start of the month was lost fairly quickly with defeats to fellow strugglers. Beginning to look like PNE are to continue as a struggling club although they have some good players. Not sure if they will stay if this run continues but all isn't lost yet. Conceding 11 goals in 5 games isn't good enough.
Starting the month badly with 4 defeats including one in the league cup. Then surprising everyone with an away win at Coventry followed by winning 6-4 at Leeds. Ending the month on a high that moved them out of the bottom three.
Special mention to Parkin for his hat-trick at Leeds and the team coming back from 1-4 down.
Another high was the attendance against Norwich which was over 18,000 due to a low entry charge.
At the end of September things are looking more optimistic.
PNE 0 Doncaster 2, Swansea 4 PNE 0, Preston 1 Portsmouth 0, Sheffield U 1 PNE 0.
Team against Sheffield U: Lonergan, Jones, Morgan, St Ledger, Davidson, Gray, James, Coutts, Treacy, Hayes, King. Subs: Brown, Mayor, McLaughlin, Russell, Barton , Parkin, Arestidou.
Scored 1 tells a story. Portsmouth and Sheffield U have started badly and conceded 11 goals in 8 games between them. After a bad start the defence have only conceded 2 goals in the last 2 games although the opposition has been poor. In September there are 5 games and four of the clubs are currently in the top 8 and Notts F might be artificially low, when you're low in the league every game looks hard.
In the league cup PNE have scored a few but against lower teams, so can hardly get excited about it.
Bit of controversy about Portsmouth being a premium game and entrance charge of £30. The gate was the worst for many years.
Weather started with dark clouds but brightening and warm. This season PNE have been in the Championship 11 years which is longer than any club currently in this league. PNE v Doncaster Rovers.
New signings are Paul Hayes, Wayne Brown, Craig Morgan and David Gray.
Mixed bunch of results in pre-season friendlies and can't say this season is greeted with enthusiasm. Odds of 5/1 against relegation putting them at 19th, the worst for many seasons.
PNE 0 Doncaster 2.