Memory match: PNE v Forest, March 2010
Preston North End thrilled their fans in the first half of the clash with Nottingham Forest in March 2010 and gave them heart palpitations in the second.
Three goals in 12 minutes gave them a comfortable lead at the interval and it looked a case of how many they would go on and win by.
Forest, managed by former PNE boss Billy Davies, whittled the lead down with two second-half goals but Darren Ferguson’s men held out for victory.
The win formed part of a five-match unbeaten run but North End were to collect just one more victory that season.
Davies’ return with Forest was greeted with boos from a number of the home fans, with the Scotsman escorted to the tunnel by stewards at the final whistle.
He had been back before with Derby but memories of his 2006 departure were still to stir emotions.
The Lilywhites made a lively start and went close to scoring just 38 seconds in.
Ross Wallace’s cross from the left was met by Chris Brown but the striker put his header just wide.
Sean St Ledger’s diving header from a Wallace free-kick was on target but was blocked by a defender.
Forest’s only chance in the opening spell was a tame shot from Dexter Blackstock which Andrew Lonergan dealt with easily.
The home side’s goal blitz started in the 20th minute, the move started from his own half by Neil Mellor.
He surged down the right channel and swing a superb cross-field ball out to Wallace.
The winger met it on the edge of the box, took a touch, before shooting past keeper Lee Camp.
North End doubled the lead from the penalty spot in the 29th minute, Billy Jones having been wrestled to the floor by Chris Gunter as he moved to meet a corner.
Callum Davidson struck the spot-kick low and hard down the middle, with Camp diving out of the way.
By the 32nd minute it was 3-0, midfielder Matty James collecting a Wallace pass and drilling a 20-yard shot into the bottom corner.
It was a second goal in a PNE shirt for James who was on loan from Manchester United.
North End almost stretched their lead further just before the interval, a header from Chris Sedgwick dropping wide.
After Mellor had fired over the bar in the 54th minute, Forest began their fightback three minutes later.
Jones’ trip on Chris Cohen saw referee Mark Heywood point to the spot – the third penalty in three games PNE had given away.
Dexter Blackstock beat Lonergan from the spot, the keeper guessing the right way but unable to get a glove on it.
Forest scored again in the 74th minute, Blackstock’s pass freeing Rob Earnshaw who lifted a shot into the net.
The goal had North End wobbling and there were hearts in mouths in the last five minutes when Blackstock went to ground in the box.
But the Forest striker got a yellow card for simulation and Ferguson’s men held out for victory.
Post-match, Davies claimed to have ignored the jeers he had received.
He said: “ I was very proud coming back here, being the most successful manager in the club’s history.
“ I know that underneath all the energy and desire to win there was a huge amount of respect for me.
“ When the fans sit back in their lounges and kitchens, as much as they shout and bawl, they will certainly appreciate what took place.”