Memory match: PNE v Brentford

Tony Ellis in action for North End against Brentford at Deepdale in October 1989
Tony Ellis in action for North End against Brentford at Deepdale in October 1989
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Preston’s recent record against Brentford is rotten but for two seasons in the late 1980s they scored goals galore when the Bees were in town.

In March 1989, North End beat the London side 5-3 in one of the classic games of the Deepdale plastic pitch era.

On that occasion, they had come back from being 3-2 down.

Seven months later, PNE handed Brentford a 2-0 lead but roared back in the second half to win 4-2.

The first of those wins had helped the Lilywhites reach the 1988/89 play-offs.

Things had become more of a struggle by the time the sides met again on October 14, 1989.

John McGrath’s men had lost seven of their first eight league and cup games.

Back-to-back wins over Chester and Blackpool had lifted the mood, before an away defeat to Walsall had halted that run.

They got back to winning ways at Northampton the week before playing host to Brentford.

Anything but a victory looked on the cards when North End conceded twice in the first 15 minutes.

The goals were scored by Brentford’s recent big-money signings Eddie May and Dean Holdsworth – both had joined in £100,000 deals.

Holdsworth could have put the game out of Preston’s reach by the 17th minute but goalkeeper Alan Kelly saved well at the striker’s feet.

Having produced little in the way of attacking football in the first half, it is fair to say that McGrath’s half-time team talk bordered on the paint-peeling.

It had the desired effect as the same set of players staged a comeback in the last 
half-hour.

The fight back began in the 59th minute as a great passing move played in Tony Ellis, who finished with a low shot across the keeper.

With the previous season’s comeback still fresh in the memory, North End fans asked themselves whether there could be a repeat.

The answer was yes!

Preston drew level in the 71st minute, Ellis turning from scorer to provider.

A superb piece of skill from the front man played in Warren Joyce, who steered a well-taken shot into the net.

With their tails up, North End pushed for more and took the lead.

Ian Bogie floated a free-kick into the box which found Steve Harper.

It was a half-chance at most but Harper produced a fine volley which flew beyond goalkeeper Tony Parkes and into the net.

Deepdale was rocking by now and in the 83rd minute, North End netted a fourth.

Brian Mooney beat his man on the edge of the box and let fly with a low shot which the keeper could only parry.

The ball fell into the path of Gary Swann to net from close range.

Not prepared to rest on his laurels after scoring earlier, Harper made a 60-yard dash back to block a shot from Bees winger Godfrey.

The victory was sadly not the signal for better fortunes for North End

They were to win only three of their next 14 games, that run to include a 2-0 FA Cup exit to non-league outfit Whitley Bay.

Two successive wins in January gave way to a run of defeats which proved the last stand for McGrath as boss.

He was replaced by his No.2 Les Chapman, whose first game ended in a 6-0 loss to Reading.

Chapman steadied the ship though, two defeats in the last seven games leaving them safe from relegation.