Memory match: PNE v Brighton

North End celebrate Graham Alexanders goal during the 3-0 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion at Deepdale
North End celebrate Graham Alexanders goal during the 3-0 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion at Deepdale
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Preston North End put Brighton to the sword on April 5, 2005, with a very special birthday boy watching in the Deepdale director’s box.

Sir Tom Finney witnessed an emphatic 3-0 victory on his 83rd birthday, goals from Graham Alexander, Richard Cresswell and David Nugent delivering the three points.

The Tuesday night clash under the floodlights was as one-sided as they come, the visitors from the south coast not managing a single shot or corner more than 90 minutes.

Granted, Brighton were a man light for an hour after a red card for Gary Hart.

But even before Hart went for his early bath, Albion had been hanging on.

The win came as North End homed in on the play-offs, forming part of a run in which they lost just once in 20 league games. The opening 20 minutes offered no clue as to the dominance North End – wearing all white for the occasion – would go on to enjoy.

Brighton got 10 men behind the ball with Adam Virgo ploughing a lone furrow up front.

There were half-chances for Nugent and Eddie Lewis before Billy Davies’ men made their breakthrough with half-an-hour gone.

Lewis’ pass put Cresswell clear, the striker about to shoot when defender Hart clipped his back leg.

Referee Phil Prosser awarded a penalty and then showed the red card to Hart.

Alexander hammered the spot-kick into the top corner – it was his sixth successful penalty of the campaign.

Preston pushed to extend their lead, Chris Sedgwick forcing a good save from Albion keeper Alan Blayney. They doubled their 
advantage on the stroke of half-time.

Alexander swung a diagonal pass across the pitch which found Lewis.

The United States winger brought it down and put over a perfectly-weighted cross which Cresswell turned into the far corner.

It was the striker’s 19th goal of a productive season and he was to eventually manage 21 – the best return of his career so far.

North End had the game in the bag within six minutes of the start of the second half.

Sedgwick started the move, sliding a pass down the right-hand side of the Albion penalty box.

Paul McKenna latched on to it and drilled in a low centre which Nugent met first time to guide it across Blayney. Nugent had only signed for North End less than three months earlier from Bury, this his fifth goal in 10 games.

Who would have envisaged that his departure from Deepdale would eventually be for a £6m fee?

Nugent would have added to his tally had it not been for Blayney diving at his feet to smother a shot.

Blayney was a busy man, diving to keep out a shot from Cresswell and then saving superbly to deny Nugent.

At the other end, the recently-signed Carlo Nash had the quietest night that he could have imagined.

It was there one slight disappointment that 
night, it was the fact that North End did not score more 
than the three goals they managed.

Their performance deserved even more.