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Preview: Bristol City vs. Preston North End - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Championship clash between Bristol City and Preston North End, including team news and predicted lineups.

Bristol City and Preston North End will bring down the curtain on Championship campaigns that fizzled out when they face off at Ashton Gate on Wednesday evening.

Both teams were in strong contention for a playoff spot before the three-month interruption, but neither can make the top six heading into this final game of the season.

Match preview

Preston boss Alex Neil on February 8, 2020© Reuters

Preston have spent more matchdays in the top six than they have out of it this term and had hold of a playoff spot when the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with the schedule.

Indeed, Bristol City were North End's closest challengers at that point, sitting just one point worse off after dropping off the pace somewhat.

That alarming slide continued post-lockdown and cost Lee Johnson - the division's longest-serving manager at that point - his job as the Robins lost patience.

A nine-game winless run, including four straight defeats, has since become two wins, a draw and a defeat in their four matches under caretaker manager Dean Holden.

City's momentum was killed off at the weekend, though, with Famara Diedhiou missing from the penalty spot in their 1-0 defeat to Swansea City.

Bristol City forward Nahki Wells celebrates scoring against Middlesbrough on July 11, 2020© Reuters

The Robins can no longer finish in the playoffs and that is also the case for Preston, who had won one out of 10 matches prior to Saturday's win against Birmingham City.

Patrick Bauer and Brad Potts were on target in either half, but sixth-placed Cardiff City's win at Middlesbrough makes it mathematically impossible for them to earn promotion.

Alex Neil will now have one eye on next season, when another playoff push is expected, and this fixture provides Preston with a chance to build some momentum to see out 2019-20.

The Lilywhites are unbeaten in 13 league meetings with Wednesday's opponents and have won on their last five visits to Ashton Gate, all by a one-goal margin.

Furthermore, Bristol City have failed to win their final game in each of the last four seasons since an 8-2 win against Walsall on the final day of the 2014-15 League One season.

Bristol City's Championship form: LLWWDL

Preston North End's Championship form: LDWDLW

Team News

Ashley Williams during a Wales training session on May 21, 2018© Reuters

Nathan Baker injured his groin in the 1-1 draw with Stoke City last week and failed to pass a fitness test ahead of the Swansea match, so he is likely to sit this one out.

Filip Benkovic also missed out against the Swans and is doubtful here, meaning that Ashley Williams should retain his place in the backline.

After coming on as a sub at the Liberty Stadium, fit-again Kasey Palmer will be pushing for a start in midweek.

As for Preston, Ben Davies and Ben Pearson missed out on selection once again versus Birmingham and are unlikely to play in this final league game.

Jayden Stockley was brought into the side to lead the line last time out, though Neil may opt to recall Tom Barkhuizen and Sean Maguire, who both came on against Birmingham.

Elsewhere, Alan Browne and Darnell Fisher are also in contention to return to the starting XI if the visitors wish to freshen things up.

Bristol City possible starting lineup:
Bentley; Vyner, Williams, Kalas; Hunt, Smith, Paterson, Dasilva; Palmer; Afobe, Wells

Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Rudd; Fisher, Storey, Bauer, Hughes; Ledson, Johnson, Rafferty; Brown; Barkhuizen, Maguire

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We say: Bristol City 0-1 Preston North End

Both teams have struggled in the second half of the campaign and will wonder what might have been with a little bit more consistency. Preston did at least pick up a morale-boosting victory last time out and boast an imperious record, so we are tipping them to pick all three points.

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Preston boss Alex Neil on February 8, 2020
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