Barnsley manager Ismael claimed that the Tykes' victory over Sheffield Wednesday was the perfect early Christmas present for the fans, who certainly have had plenty to cheer about since the 45-year-old's arrival.
Dominik Frieser and Cauley Woodrow got the goals as Barnsley moved further away from the dreaded dotted line with victory over a struggling Wednesday side on Saturday, and while the Tykes initially went behind to Josh Windass's fourth-minute goal, Barnsley turned up the heat to rise up the table in gameweek 18.
Ismael has now led his side to three wins from their last four in the second tier and Barnsley sit comfortably in 13th heading into the midweek round of fixtures - with a 12-point gap separating Ismael's side from the drop zone.
Barnsley are yet to share the spoils in a game since Ismael took charge for the first time, with Barnsley winning seven from 11 under the Frenchman, and the 13th-placed side can afford to feel optimistic about chalking up another triumph against an inconsistent Preston outfit.
Preston's three-game unbeaten streak came to an abrupt end against Luton, who stormed to a 3-0 win as Nathan Jones celebrated his 100th triumph in his 200th game at the helm.
James Collins netted a hat-trick as Preston were brought crashing back down to earth after a previous impressive set of results, with Alex Neil's men taking seven points from a possible nine before their loss to the Hatters.
Notching up goals at the correct end of the pitch has not been a problem for the Lilywhites - 25 strikes is the highest out of all the sides in the bottom half - but Preston have shipped a league-high 28 goals and must look to shore up their defence lest they risk being dragged closer to danger.
While Ismael is yet to take one point from a Barnsley game, Preston have only recorded two draws in their 18 Championship fixtures this term, so the recent history suggests that there will most certainly be a winner and a loser in this encounter.
Preston eased to two victories over Barnsley last season by an aggregate score of 8-1, and the Tykes have not beaten this weekend's visitors since the 2016-17 season.
Barnsley Championship form: LLWLWW
Preston North End Championship form: LLWDWL
Barnsley are rather fortunate on the injury front at the moment and may be able to welcome defender Jordan Williams back to the fold in the not-so-distant future, although Ismael has confirmed that Aapo Halme will be out for the rest of the year with a toe injury.
The Tykes' only two long-term concerns are Mike Bahre and Ben Williams, but Ismael still has plenty of players on the bench raring to go should he opt to freshen things up.
Barnsley possible starting lineup:
Walton; Sollbauer, Andersen, Helik; Brittain, Mowatt, Kane, Styles; Chaplin, Frieser; Woodrow
Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Rudd; Fisher, Storey, Davies, Hughes; Ledson, Browne; Barkhuizen, Johnson, Sinclair; Riis
We say: Barnsley 2-2 Preston North End
Preston fans have no reason to panic despite the manner of their crushing defeat to Luton, but they are now facing a Barnsley side who are only looking upwards with Ismael in control of the reins. The two sides are not renowned for one-pointers, but we are struggling to pick a winner and are ultimately backing a four-goal draw at Oakwell Stadium.