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PNE Retro 1996 - PNE tame the Shrews

Gary Bennett misses the target.

Gary Bennett misses the target.

Preston North End’s 12th man played a vital role in victory over Shrewsbury Town in 1996.

Boss Gary Peters had pleaded for support from the terraces in the hope of ending a dismal four-match losing run – and boy did he get the desired response.

The Barmy Army were in fine voice; singing, clapping and stomping for practically the entire 90 minutes.

Sitting precariously close to the bottom of the table, Preston needed all the help they could get in securing three points.

The game wasn’t pretty – but perhaps that was to be expected after four defeats on the bounce.

The first half was scrappy, with neither side producing much in front of goal.

The only bright light was North End’s David Reeves. The record signing covered every blade of grass on his home league debut.

And when the first goal came just minutes after the interval, it was no surprise that he was involved.

Off on a run down the right, he cut into the box and pulled the ball back.

Panic stricken full-back Kevin Seabury lunged forward, only to stab the ball into his own net.

On 74 minutes Preston doubled their lead – again with the help of on-form Reeves.

Kevin Kilbane stepped forward to take a free kick just outside the penalty area after he was tripped by Seabury.

Curling the ball into the middle, Reeves was there to meet it, finishing with a downward header which came off the inside of the far post.

A minute later, Gary Bennett, who was presented with a number of chances throughout the game, missed an opportunity to put the game beyond Shrewsbury.

Finding himself close to goal on the right side, his shot was blocked by keeper Paul Edwards.

If that would have gone in it would have been game over; as things were Shrewsbury pulled one back, resulting in a worrying final 10 minutes.

Paul Evans reacted first to a rebound off the chest of Russ Wilcox, putting in a low cross in front of goal.

Gary Stevens side footed home, and despite initially looking offside, the goal was later confirmed as legitimate.

For the second time Bennett could have put the game to bed, but when Kevin Gage pulled the ball back into his path, he spooned it over the bar from six yards out.

Despite the miss, Preston managed to hold on to all three points, as the fan-tastic Barmy Army cheered their team until the final whistle.

 

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