Rankine is Preston’s last-gasp hero

Kurt Nogan, front, has his shot at goal charged down

Kurt Nogan, front, has his shot at goal charged down

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Take a look back at Preston’s matches from yesteryear...PNE 2 Wigan 2, November 28, 1998

Preston launched a late fight back to earn a draw with Wigan Athletic at Deepdale.

Mark Rankine was at the heart of the comeback, PNE having trailed 2-0 to Wigan in the clash on November 28, 1998.

Midfielder Rankine made a goalline clearance to prevent the visitors going 3-0 ahead.

And five minutes from time, he popped up to head North End’s equaliser.

Not that Rankine saw the ball hit the net!

“I just gambled, got behind their lad, shut my eyes and it went in,” said Rankine who was named man of the match.

A draw had seemed very unlikely as the Latics scored early in each half.

Ex-PNE defender Colin Greenall headed the away side in front after seven minutes.

It was a lead which Andy Porter stretched soon after the re-start of the second half.

Then North End showed their fighting spirit, halving the deficit with a Jon Macken goal – before Rankine closed his eyes and levelled the scores.

In front of an 11,562 crowd, Wigan got on the front foot and were soon ahead.

When the North End back line failed to clear their lines properly at a corner, Simon Haworth won possession on the edge of the box and lifted the ball into the box.

Greenall got in between the two centre-halves to meet it and head the ball past PNE keeper David Lucas from eight yards.

Scott Green fired wide for Wigan, while North End’s first chance of the game fell to Rankine who put a low shot behind.

It needed a fine save from Roy Carroll to keep Wigan in front, a shot from Kurt Nogan striking Greenall on the foot and looping goalwards.

Carroll back-pedalled and flung himself backwards to tip the ball over the bar.

The Northern Ireland keeper was in action again soon after, pushing a shot from Nogan behind after the Preston striker had sprung the offside trap in meeting a Sean Gregan pass.

At the other end, Michael Jackson made a fine sliding challenge on Haworth as he met a Stuart Barlow cross.

Then it needed a tackle from Lee Cartwright on the edge of the box to stop David Lee in his tracks as the visitors attacked on the break.

Wigan went 2-0 in front in the 54th minute.

Porter took possession 25 yards out and the North End defence backed off, he struck a low shot into the corner of the net.

Greenall almost made it three in the 66th minute, his header from a Lee Corner on its way in until Rankine blocked on the line.

How pivotal a moment that was to prove.

In the 71st minute, PNE got back into the game as Nogan’s clever pass freed substitute Macken in the box, the front man firing low past Carroll.

Their equaliser arrived in the 85th minute, Cartwright’s cross from the right-wing met by Rankine at the back post.

The home supporters went wild as Rankine turned away to celebrate.

PNE: Lucas, Parkinson (Macken 62), Kidd, Jackson, Ludden, Cartwright, Gregan, Rankine, McKenna, Harris, Nogan. Subs (not used): Darby, Murdock.