PNE v BRADFORD MEMORY MATCH
Preston’s victory over Bradford City in March 1978 sent them briefly to the top of the Third Division.
Deepdale’s biggest crowd of the season to date – 11,920 – saw a 3-1 win for Nobby Stiles’ men and it followed on from a 4-0 victory over Colchester the previous week, when Alex Bruce netted all four.
Bruce was not on the scoresheet this time, his partner-in-goals Mike Elwiss scoring twice, while there was a collector’s item from John McMahon.
North End’s performance for the opening 40 minutes against the Bantams gave little notice that victory lay ahead.
It was the visitors who were the better side for much of the first half, with PNE keeper Roy Tunks forced into a couple of saves, while Graham Cross had to clear off the line from City front man David McNiven.
However, two goals in as many minutes just before the interval swung the contest firmly in PNE’s favour.
In the 41st minute, a corner from Gordon Coleman was punched out by visiting keeper Peter Downsborough.
The ball cleared the box but came to right-back McMahon, who crashed a tremendous first-time volley into the roof of the net.
That was McMahon’s first goal for nearly two years and marked his recall to the side after a four-game absence in some style.
Preston’s celebrations had hardly died down when they doubled their advantage.
Ricky Thomson got a low shot away from the left-hand side of the box, which was parried by Downsborough, the rebound falling to Elwiss, who poked the ball over the line from close range.
The home side were now in the driving seat despite their uncertain start and they played with plenty of confidence after the interval.
Sean Haslegrave saw a shot saved by the keeper as PNE looked for a third goal to finish the job off.
It was Bradford though, who got the next goal to give them some hope of snatching a draw.
Cec Podd’s cross from the right wing found substitute Joe Cooke in acres of space in the box and he headed past Tunks from eight yards.
An action-packed spell of stoppage time saw Bradford’s John Middleton sent off for kicking out at Coleman after he had been fouled by the North End midfielder.
Preston took advantage of the extra man by scoring a third goal to finish Bradford off and claim the points.
Elwiss ran clear of the visitors’ defence, went around keeper Downsborough before slotting a shot into the empty net for his 14th goal of the season.
They went top of the table on goal difference from Wrexham, staying there for four days when the Welsh side won a game in hand 6-1.
Wrexham were to finish as champions, with PNE promoted in third place after finishing above Peterborough on goal difference.
DON’T MISS EIGHT-PAGE PNE PREVIEW IN FRIDAY’S EVENING POST