LIKE a lot of teams before them, Preston North End found out the hard way last season that there is no easy route back to the Championship for relegated teams.
The Lancashire club lost their first game back in the third tier of English football, 4-2 at home to Colchester but they won the next seven during August and September and looked set to storm their way to the Championship only to suffer a complete reversal of fortunes in October during which they lost all five league One games.
Their indifferent form continued for the rest of the year which led to manager Phil Brown being sacked and replaced by Stevenage boss Graham Westley in January.
Westley, in his second spell in charge at Stevenage had secured Boro back-to-back promotions and the Deepdale board were delighted to have captured a man regarded as being one of the rising stars of the Football League.
Westley wasn’t able to turn things around sufficiently in the second half of the season to realise the club’s promotion hopes and they finished in 15th place 19 points adrift of his old club who finished sixth.
Striker Iain Hume, currently on loan at Doncaster, finished the season the club’s top scorer with 10.
Westley returned to Stevenage during the summer and brought several of their best players over to Deepdale.
Preston have made a solid start and will check in at the Keepmoat tonight in ninth place on the same points as Rovers (10th) having played a game more.
They bounced back from a 3-1 midweek defeat against Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup to beat fading Yeovil 3-2 at Deepdale on Saturday.
But it was a patchy display and they trailed 1-0 at the end of a poor first half display.
“It was a shock to go behind and the shock seemed to reverberate through our entire first half performance and we struggled to get back on terms,” said Westley.
It took a superb second half performance by 18-year-old former Arsenal trainee Jeffrey Monakana, and the 75th minute red card handed out to Yeovil’s Ed Upson, to help turn the tide.
The pacy youngster levelled the scores on 57 minutes and was also involved in the team’s second goal scored by striker Chris Beardsley, who spent time at Belle Vue earlier in his career.
Both Rovers’ striker Chris Brown and defender Jamie McCombe list Preston among their former clubs.