Roper Reports will endeavour to make sense of the recent happenings at North End and offer general comment on the world of Football.
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Tough month ahead for North End
Saturday 18th October 2014
This Saturday's game against Port Vale sees the beginning of a tough four weeks for North End with a Saturday / Tuesday game right through until, and including, the JPT at Oldham on November the 11th. If you include the cup-tie on the following Saturday that makes nine games in 28 days which will certainly put pressure on the squad and will see most of our boys get a game at some point. Following on from the Port Vale game we make the long trip to Gillingham on Tuesday evening for a 520 plus mile round trip. Next Saturday sees us embark on our first league game against Graham Alexander's Fleetwood Town. No rest for the wicked because on Tuesday the 28th we are off on a 450 plus mile round trip for the re-arranged game at Orient followed on the Saturday by another away league game at Rockdale. The Tuesday after that it is an away trip to Swindon but this is only a 366 mile soiree! Then it's the FA Cup and with our luck it could well be Newport IOW away – our first game in Europe. Quickly followed on the Tuesday by Oldham in the JPT. That's about 1,400 miles on the road not including a potential away FA Cup time in the next 28 days.
On the field North End should be raring to go after 11 days off but as often happens I feel the game against Port Vale will not be like the game in the last round of the JPT. They know plenty about us and we know plenty about them but I must say I feel we have the better squad so although it may be a cagey affair I still expect North End to continue their winning run which has seen us move 5th in the table nine points behind leaders Bristol City but with two games in hand. The run of away games coming up is due to the fact that after the Port Vale game we will have played seven of our eleven league games away from home and while some may see that as a disadvantage I feel we play a more relaxed game away from home without the pressure that Deepdale seems to bring. Following on from the Port Vale game we travel to the Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening for the scheduled league game against Gillingham. We have had many battles over the years with the Gills and for a long period in the 1990's Gillingham was our long distance local derby. I think Peter Taylor is starting to build a stronger side down in Kent and I anticipate a tough game on Tuesday evening but one which is winnable given the strength in depth of Simon Grayson's squad.
Finally, this week, I had the pleasure of being in the capacity crowd at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium last Saturday to watch Chorley quite convincingly overturn Bamber Bridge in the 3rd Qualifying round of the FA Cup. The score line finished 4-1 and in no way flattered the visitors who's reward for the win was a home tie against Halifax which, if they win, will put them in the hat for round one along with North End.