Memory match: Aston Villa v PNE 1968

Preston will look to make up for lost time when they head to the West Midlands to face Aston Villa this weekend.

Thursday, 19th January 2017, 10:00 am
George Ross played in Prestons 1-0 win against Aston Villa at Villa Park in November 1968
George Ross played in Prestons 1-0 win against Aston Villa at Villa Park in November 1968

It is more than 48 years since the Lilywhites won at Villa Park, although this will be only their sixth visit since the 1-0 victory in November 1968.

Ken Knighton netted the winner on that occasion and it certainly caused ructions at the time.

The result sent Villa to the foot of the Second Division and Villa fans protested.

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Some supporters tried to stage a protest at the bottom of the main stand and police had to move in – including three on horseback.

Within a few weeks of the game, Villa manager Tommy Cummings lost his job and was replaced by former PNE player Tommy Docherty.

North End faced Villa on the back of a steady run of form – they had been beaten just once in six games.

However, there had been four draws in that sequence.

North End’s side that day included Alan Kelly, George Ross, Graham Hawkins, Alan Spavin and Archie Gemmill.

Kelly, Ross and Spavin had been in the Preston team which had good memories of Villa Park, having beaten Swansea 2-1 there in the FA Cup semi-final in 1964

It was Villa who did most of the attacking early on.

But North End restricted them in terms of chances, with Kelly not overly troubled in that time.

Gemmill had a chance for PNE at the other end, forcing a save from the keeper. After Villa had been on top for much of the first half, the Lilywhites snatched the game’s only goal after the break.

At the time it was credited as an own goal by Villa centre-back Fred Turnball who was under pressure from North End midfielder Knighton.

In the Preston history books, it is recorded as being Knighton’s goal.

Whoever got the last touch, it settled the game in PNE’s favour.

They were to do the double over Villa that season, Jim McNab’s goal in the return clash at Deepdale two months later giving them a 1-0 win.

By then, Docherty was in charge at Villa.

Reports from the game detailed a physical approach from Villa.

The contest appeared to be heading for a goalless draw until North End scored in time added on by referee Pat Partridge.

Frank Lee chipped a free-kick into the box, one which the Villa keeper could only flap at.

The ball fell to McNab who slid the ball over the line amid close attention from the Villa defenders.

North End’s last visit in the league to Villa Park came in August 1973, the home side winning 2-0.

In December 2002, the clubs met in the League Cup and it was not a great night to say the least for PNE.

Craig Brown’s men were beaten 5-0 in the fourth-round tie by the then Premier League side, three of the goals coming in the last 10 minutes.

That day, the news also came out that they had lost star striker Ricardo Fuller for the remainder of the season after he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in the previous game at Coventry.

Hostilities in the league resumed last October when North End beat Villa 2-0 at Deepdale, Ben Pearson and Jordan Hugill on target with first-half goals.

That game proved to be the last in charge of Villa for Roberto Di Matteo.

The Italian was sacked within 48 hours of the game and Steve Bruce has since taken up the reins.