A look ahead at how Preston North End are preparing for the big kick off
Consistency was the key for a North End side that were in the top six throughout their arduous campaign in League One last season – Simon Grayson's first full season in charge of the club.
The Lilywhites began with four league draws but then went on to record five consecutive victories as they went unbeaten in the division until October. Preston only lost five league games in the back end of 2014 and were pushing for the automatic promotion places from January onwards.
However, they had to settle for a spot in the play-offs and did battle with Rotherham United in the semi-finals. A 1-1 draw at Deepdale set the tie at Rotherham up nicely, but a 3-1 defeat to Steve Evans' side ended Preston's season a game earlier than they would have wanted.
THE MANAGER – SIMON GRAYSON
An experienced boss, former Huddersfield Town manager Simon Grayson was appointed Preston chief in February 2013, taking over from Graham Westley.
During his Huddersfield days, Grayson helped take the club to the Championship through the play-offs but, after a run that saw the Terriers fail to win in 12 games, he was dismissed. He also spent four years at Leeds United, having started his managerial career with Blackpool.
Grayson began his playing career with his local club Leeds before moving on to play almost 200 times for Leicester City. Between 1997-99 Grayson was at Aston Villa – where he spent time under the management of our very own John Gregory.
He also represented the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford before making over 100 appearances for Blackpool, where he finished his playing career in 2006.
His brother Paul is the coach of Essex county cricket club.
VISITING THE GROUND?
Opened in 1878, Deepdale is one of the most historic stadiums in England. With a capacity of 24,500, Deepdale can generate a ferocious atmosphere when full. Crawley supporters will be housed in the Bill Shankley Kop End, behind one of the goals, when we visit Deepdale on September 20.
SUMMER BUSINESS SO FAR
North End have managed to tie midfielder Alan Browne down to a new deal but Stuart Beavon has signed for League Two Burton Albion on a season-long loan. Also incoming at Preston are winger Kyel Reid from Bradford City and Port Vale striker Jordan Hugill.
Callum Woods has arrived from Grayson's old side Huddersfield whilst Jamie Jones has joined on a free transfer from Leyton Orient.
John Mousinho and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff have been released and have joined Beavon at Burton.
THEY PLAYED FOR BOTH
Former Crawley striker Jamie Proctor was born in and played for Preston, having come through the youth system at the club.
Jeffrey Monakana spent just over a season with the Lilywhites before moving to Brighton & Hove Albion in January 2014. Jeffrey had a stint on loan at Crawley from Brighton in the second half of last season. In 2009, Adam Barton and Dominic Collins had time on loan at Crawley from Preston.
Reds have a decent record against Preston in the four meetings between the two sides over the last couple of years. In our first season in League One, Gary Alexander's brace helped Crawley to a 2-1 win over Graham Westley's side in September 2012. Crawley went 2-0 up but ended up hanging on for the three points after Paul Huntington's late consolation. In the reverse fixture, Mike Jones' strike proved the difference in April 2013 as Reds ran out 1-0 victors at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
Last season saw Crawley came back from being 2-0 down in John Gregory's first home match as Reds manager. Joe Walsh grabbed a goal back and at the death that man Alexander powered in a header to earn a share of the spoils. Reds lost the return 1-0 at Deepdale in March.
WHAT THE BOOKIES THINK
Preston North End are 9/4 to win promotion from League One in the 2014-15 season.