Memory match: PNE v Reading

Patrick Agyemang climbs off the ground after scoring for PNE against Reading in December 2004
Patrick Agyemang climbs off the ground after scoring for PNE against Reading in December 2004
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Preston’s 3-0 victory over Reading on December 28, 2004, was part of a very happy Christmas for the Lilywhites.

Patrick Agyemang and Eddie Lewis were on target in the Deepdale clash, coupled with an own goal from Royals defender Andy Hughes.

North End put derby defeats to Wigan and Burnley behind them to go on a fine run, this win forming part of a 10-game unbeaten run in the league.

A week before Christmas, they had beaten West Ham 2-1 at Deepdale, and they followed that up with a goalless draw at Stoke on Boxing Day.

Reading and the leaders Sunderland were beaten at Deepdale, with Billy Davies’ men then victorious at Crewe three days into 2005.

Preston were in mid-table going into the visit of Reading, a side who were very much in the promotion running at the time, having won three games on the bounce.

They effectively had this game in the bag in the first half thanks to a powerful performance.

It was Reading who started well, with Nicky Forster and Paul Brooker having early sights of goal.

However, PNE stepped on the gas and took a 17th-minute lead.

Lewis delivered a free-kick from the left wing into the box for Agyemang to power a header into the net.

It was the striker’s first goal for the club since signing from Gillingham seven weeks earlier for a £350,000 fee.

Davies was later to reveal that he had given a pep talk on the phone to Agyemang the day before the game, urging him to be patient in his wait to find the net.

Reading had a chance to equalise soon after but Nicky Shorey’s cross was headed over Andrew Lonergan’s bar by Ibrahima Sonko.

North End doubled their lead in the 26th minute, another free-kick setting up the second goal.

Chris Sedgwick was fouled by Shorey, Youl Mawene lifting the free-kick into the middle.

Agyemang dummied it and the unfortunate Hughes stabbed the ball past his own keeper.

Not content to sit on their lead, Paul McKenna went close with a low shot from a Graham Alexander centre.

Agyemang then forced Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann into a reflex save.

There was a brief response from the visitors, Brooker putting a shot wide and Lloyd Owusu heading over.

In the second half, Lewis shot wide from 20 yards before he got himself on the scoresheet in the 68th minute.

Agyemang turned supplier, making a powerful run down the inside-left channel before squaring the ball into the path of USA international Lewis who had a simple finish from 12 yards.

Lonergan made a couple of late saves from James Harper and Forster, ensuring a clean sheet.

Late in the game there was a substitute appearance for Filipe Oliveira who was on loan from Chelsea.

The Portuguese midfielder had started the previous game at Stoke.

After the game, PNE boss Davies said: “We’ve got to keep grinding away.”

North End remained unbeaten in league action until February, then went nine more games without losing.