When loan midfielder Lee Williamson waltzed through the Cardiff defence to score Preston’s last goal in a 6-0 rout of the Welsh side in April 2009, he could not have envisaged how important it would prove.
At the time, it capped off a fine afternoon in the spring sunshine, the victory being PNE’s biggest for eight years.
But a fortnight later, it was to prove the difference between North End making the play-offs at Cardiff’s expense.
Level on points and goal difference at the end of the campaign, the Lilywhites pipped the Bluebirds to a top-six place by a single goal.
This was an action-packed game, Cardiff very much in it despite the scoreline.
In the first half they created 11 chances to North End’s three, Andrew Lonergan pulling off a fine penalty save.
Preston were to prove far more ruthless though, and made the most of the opportunities they carved out.
Two Neil Mellor goals gave them a half-time lead, before they turned the screw after the interval.
There had already been chances at both ends by the time North End took a 17th-minute lead.
Lonergan launched a kick from deep inside the PNE half to the edge of the Cardiff box.
Jon Parkin headed it down into the path of Mellor, whose low shot deflected off Roger Johnson to wrong-foot goalkeeper Stuart Taylor.
Mellor doubled Preston’s advantage four minutes before the interval.
Ross Wallace’s free-kick was met by Youl Mawene beyond the far post, his header back into the middle cleared as far as Paul McKenna. The midfielder – making his 472nd appearance for PNE, which equalled Sir Tom Finney’s record – let fly with a shot which first spun off a defender and then brushed off Mellor on its way in.
McKenna was initially credited with the goal before replays showed Mellor had got the last touch.
The lead was in danger of being halved moments before half-time when Billy Jones gave Joe Ledley a shove as they jumped to meet a cross, referee Keith Stroud pointing to the spot.
Ross McCormack took the penalty, Lonergan diving to his right to push it behind.
North End stamped their authority on proceedings in the second half.
In the 51st minute, Mellor turned provider, sliding a fine pass down the middle for Parkin to chase. The burly front man held off a defender’s challenge to run through and poke a shot past Taylor from the edge of the box.
Within three minutes, PNE had bagged their fourth with more than a little help from Cardiff centre-half Johnson.
Chris Sedgwick took possession in midfield and played a fine pass out to Mellor on the left-hand side of the box.
In trying to clear Mellor’s cross, Johnson succeeded only in heading the ball into the roof of his own net.
Substitute Chris Brown netted the fifth, steering in a header at the back post from Sedgwick’s cross.
Then Williamson scored that all-important sixth goal in the 86th minute.
He collected Ross Wallace’s pass 25 yards out, turned towards goal and fired home from the edge of the box.