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Team will rise to the challenge, says Johnson

Reporter: Simon Smedley
Date online: 07 March 2014

ATHLETIC boss Lee Johnson is backing his team to rise to their massive derby challenge at home to Preston tomorrow.

Simon Grayson’s in-form side heads to Boundary Park on the back of a nine-match unbeaten league run.

The Deepdale outfit has been saddened by the death of club legend Sir Tom Finney, but the current team has carried on winning on the pitch and is in the mix for an automatic return to the Championship.

Athletic — 15th in the table, three points above Crewe’s final relegation spot — face a daunting task in many people’s eyes, but Johnson has a near full-strength squad available and is looking for a win.

He said: “Preston are flying and they’ll bring a fair few fans with them, and I love it when there’s a good atmosphere. We’ll go into tomorrow as underdogs, but we are at home.

“Many of our younger lads won’t be used to the big derby match atmosphere, so we’ll have to just make sure they know how important the game is. I know the players will enjoy the game.

“The occasion will give them a lift. There will be no confidence issues tomorrow.”

Preston’s fellow high-fliers Rotherham are in town on Tuesday night, but again Johnson remains positive.

“We’ve got two massive games coming up over the next few days, against teams who are both bang in form,” he said.

“It could be the wrong time to play Preston and Rotherham, it could be the right time.

“Either way, there’s a big belief we can get positive results in both games.”

Defender Genseric Kusunga is Athletic’s only definite absentee tomorrow due to a thigh injury, while wide man James Dayton will be assessed before kick-off. Centre-back James Wilson is available again.


March's fixture list looks very very tough. We play four of the top five teams this month in addition to Crewe and Crawley - should we concentrate our energies on these two opponents ? With 6 games coming in the next 21 days we need to ensure our 'best team' is avalable for these key games.

It is a long standing tradition that Latics perform well against 'Good teams', its when they play mediocre teams that they perform poorly - "Typical Latics!" will be uttered if we beat either one or both.

I can understand the 'brave words' of LJ when facing the oncoming challenge of both Preston and Rotherham. In the early part of this season Oldham were very unlucky to lose the away games at both mentioned clubs in particular at Preston. In each game dubious penalties were awarded but the downside on the return fixtures is that the squad has nothing like the strength it had then, in fact a weakened squad with a huge question mark against it. Unless we strengthen in defence I fear the worst..!!!

I keep hearing big crowd, come early, and great atmos The fact of the matter is that PNE will bring no more than 1500 supporters which insidentally can fit within the small section of the RRE. I understand why the non admission of Latics fans to this stand which is for purely financial reasons, ie less police and stewards. if the powers that be down at BP wanted a better atmos then surely admitting Latics fans to the small section of the RRE would indeed create this. Big crowd? LOL

"Team will rise to the challenge" .....er, they didn't.

"Lee Johnson is backing his team to rise to their massive derby challenge at home to Preston", Rise? They failed to get out of bed! Utter useless, League Two here we come!

2900 daz


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