MEMORY MATCH: PRESTON v SHREWSBURY

Mike Conroy (right) turns to celebrate after scoring  on his Preston home debut against Shrewsbury at Deepdale in August 1993

Mike Conroy (right) turns to celebrate after scoring on his Preston home debut against Shrewsbury at Deepdale in August 1993

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If Carlsberg did first halves of football matches then they would have been raising a pint or two to Preston’s performance against Shrewsbury Town at Deepdale in August 1993.

The Lilywhites blew their visitors away with a five-goal burst inside the opening 26 minutes, in among that lot being a hat-trick from Mike Conroy on his home debut.

In the second half, North End took their foot off the gas but still managed to add a sixth goal to their haul – the Shrews netting a consolation which mattered little.

The 6-1 win followed up a 4-3 victory at Scarborough the week before, although there had been a 4-1 loss to Burnley in the League Cup in between.

Conroy had joined PNE from the Clarets for £35,000, making his debut in the cup defeat at Turf Moor.

But it did not take the Scotsman long to make his mark in front of the home faithful as Shrewsbury were hit for six.

The Shropshire visitors actually made the better start to the game, PNE keeper Kelham O’Hanlon forced into an early save to deny veteran striker Wayne Clarke.

However, it was Preston who took a ninth-minute lead and they never looked back.

Gareth Ainsworth was the man to find the net, the winger finishing off a flowing move which had seen Lee Cartwright, Tony Ellis and Conroy link up.

The advantage was doubled in the 16th minute, Ainsworth’s cross superbly cushioned by Paul Raynor into the path of Conroy, who headed home from close range.

Raynor had a hand in the third goal five minutes later, his corner to the back post headed back into the mix by Paul Masefield for centre-half Gavin Nebbling to score.

Two goals in the space of two minutes then took North End completely out of sight of the Shrews.

Masefield’s long throw-in from the right was headed on by Nebbling and Conroy did the rest from inside the 
six-yard box.

Preston’s fifth goal and Conroy’s hat-trick was the best of the first-half quintet.

Once again Raynor was the supplier, his cross from the left-wing met brilliantly by Conroy who drilled a left-foot finish into the net.

As often happens when a team has a first-half goal rush, the pace slackened in the second period.

The hosts made it 6-0 in the 53rd minute, referee Terry Heilbron pointing to the penalty spot after Nebbling got a shove in the back from Town substitute O’Neil Donaldson.

Ellis’ penalty was parried by goalkeeper Paul Edwards but Ainsworth followed up to tuck home the rebound.

Shrewsbury’s consolation came on the hour mark, Mickey Brown – who was to joint North End a couple of years later – firing a shot past O’Hanlon.

Reflecting on his home debut treble, Conroy said: “It was a great team performance and my hat-trick was the icing on the cake. The Preston fans gave me a terrific welcome and it was nice to reward that with the goals.”

Victory over the Shrews formed part of a five-match winning run in the league for John Beck’s men. They were beaten finalists in the play-offs that season.