Reading vs Preston predictions: PNE can edge tight Royals clash
Two sides with ambitions to at least make the play-offs this season clash on Friday night when Reading host Preston in the Championship.
With just two points and three places separating the 11th-placed Royals and North End, who are eighth, a victory for either would boost belief that they can finish in the top six this season.
Preston have won their last two matches, while Reading have picked up just a point from their last two outings and have only one win in their last seven overall, so the visitors should approach the trip to the Madejski Stadium with confidence.
Royals boss Paul Ince has Mamadou Loum available again after his one-match ban saw him miss the goalless stalemate with Luton Town in midweek.
Loum could replace Ovie Ejaria, who is a major doubt for Friday night after coming off against the Hatters, while Shane Long could be preferred to Andy Carroll up front.
Preston midfielder Ben Whiteman has been ruled out with the thigh injury he sustained against Swansea on Tuesday, with Ryan Ledson expected to start in his place.
Patrick Bauer is back in training after his recent appendix operation but this match is set to come too soon for him, while Tottenham loanee Troy Parrott remains out with a hamstring injury.
Preston are the joint-lowest scorers in the Championship, registering just 14 goals — the same as Cardiff — from 19 games.
PNE drew five of their first six league games 0-0 at the start of the season and of their seven wins so far, five have been by a 1-0 scoreline.
Reading started the season well at home, winning their first four games at the Madejski, but since then they have only picked up two victories from their last five Championship matches in front of their own fans.
Ince appears to be getting the best out of his son, Tom, who has shone for the Royals this term, registering four goals and three assists so far.
In the overall head-to-head stats, there is very little to choose between them with Reading winning 27 times, Preston have triumphed on 25 occasions and there have been 13 draws.
Preston's goal-shy start to the season saw them score just three times in their first 11 league games but they have improved their attacking output to hit 11 in their last eight and they come into this clash on the back of two wins so they are fancied to edge what should be a close encounter.
Reading have lost four of their last six matches in the second tier so PNE look good value at 19/10 with LiveScore Bet to come out on top, while a familiar correct score of 1-0 to the visitors also appeals at 5/1 with LiveScore Bet.