All systems go for north west season bow

Preparations are almost complete for WIFC’s first outing of the 2012/13 season, as the Internet ‘Orns travel to Preston to take on the current IFA League champions before moving on to Bolton for the Watford game this Saturday. As seasonal bows go it couldn’t be trickier for WIFC, but the squad travels in good spirits and keen to get the campaign up and running.

WIFC’s Scott Mathers, due to make a comeback this weekend, prepares to tackle Preston’s Des Wilson in Feb 2008.

The game also marks the first match for new WIFC fixtures supremo Phil McBride, and getting the game on is a great start to the new era. “I’m really pleased we’ve managed to cobble a squad together. We’ve missed out on trips to Preston thanks to the fixtures computer sending Watford to Deepdale for midweek games, and their relegation, so the Bolton trip gave us the chance to stop off on route” said McBride.

Phil McBride in action at the 2010 Vic Road match

The PNE fans team are one of the most decorated in the IFA, having won their 4th league title since their formation in 2005 last season. Their role of honour also includes 4 IFA Cup wins, 4 North West Cup wins, 2 Team of the Year awards and possibly their finest hour, winning Worldnet in 2008 where they beat WIFC 1-0 in the final.

In a classic game. George Pennington gave PNE a first minute lead as the Lilywhites dominated the first period. With some half time inspiring words ringing in their ears, WIFC took the game to Preston in the second half, and thought they had an equaliser when they won a penalty, but the normally reliable Paul Watt skewed his kick wide. The miss took the steam out of WIFC and PNE completed a deserved win, while WIFC wondered what might have been with the impetus of an equalising goal.

Action from the 2008 Worldnet final between the teams

The two clubs have a long history, before and since that Worldnet final, with WIFC providing the opposition for PNE’s first ever IFA league fixture at Queens School in August 2005. The game ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw, with Paul Whittenbury and a Richard Murphy brace providing the home goals. Later that season, a Dave Soloway strike earned a 1-1 draw in WIFC’s only visit to Preston so far.

Captains Steve Cowell of Preston and Simon Neill of WIFC before the club’s first meeting in 2005.

For each of the following three seasons there were only games in Watford, as the fixtures computer thwarted return trips. PNE grabbed the first win in the series with a 4-1 success in 06/07, while Watford inflicted PNE’s only defeat of the 07/08 season with a 3-1 win thanks to a Paul Watt brace and another Murphy strike. The following season, Preston were comfortable 4-0 winners in the first meeting since that Worldnet final.

Paul Watt’s penalty gives WIFC a 3-1 lead in Feb 2008. In the biggest ‘if only’ in WIFC’s history, how different might the Worldnet final have been if Watty had scored that one..

In addition to the Worldnet final, the two sides also met in an IFA Cup Semi Final in 2009, with Preston winning 2-0. During the 2009/10 season Preston brought both A and B teams to Watford for a double header, with the visitors traveling home with 4-2 and 5-1 wins, while the last meeting between the teams saw Soloway and Jimmy Davis give WIFC a 2-0 Worldnet first round win against Preston’s B team.

A study in concentration during the last meeting, at Worldnet 2011

Full record – WIFC v Preston

Played Won Drew Lost For Against GD
8 1 2 5 10 20 -10

Full record – WIFC v Preston B

Played Won Drew Lost For Against GD
2 1 0 1 3 5 -2

All-time WIFC scorers v Preston (both teams)
3 – Rich Murphy
2 – Dave Soloway, Paul Watt
1 – Paul Whittenbury, Paul Karlsen, Warren Flanagan, Pete Fincham, Jimmy Davis, OG

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