Memory match: PNE v Leeds United

Preston North End took Leeds apart in their meeting at Deepdale on Halloween, 2006.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 5th May 2016, 1:00 pm
Sean St Ledger and Danny Dichio in action for Preston against Leeds at Deepdale in October 2006
Sean St Ledger and Danny Dichio in action for Preston against Leeds at Deepdale in October 2006

The 4-1 victory was sweet revenge for PNE after their defeat to the Yorkshire side in the play-off semi-finals five months earlier.

North End had changed managers inbetween, with Billy Davies leaving to join Derby and being replaced by Paul Simpson.

After an uncertain start to Simpson’s tenure, they hit form and went on a nine-game unbeaten run.

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That had ended the Friday before this Tuesday night clash with Leeds, losing 3-2 at Burnley.

The Lilywhites had David Nugent back from suspension and the short break from action appeared to have done him no end of good.

He laid on PNE’s first two goals and scored the third.

Leeds arrived over the Pennines having recently appointed Dennis Wise as their new manager, assisted by Gus Poyet.

They had been tempted away from Swindon after the sacking of Kevin Blackwell.

Wise’s new charges were no match for Preston, with two goals in a three-minute spell putting the home side in charge in front of a crowd of 16,168.

Kick-off had been delayed for 15 minutes after Leeds fans got stuck in traffic jams on the M62.

They probably wished they had done a U-turn and not made it at all, as North End took control of the game.

In the 19th minute, Nugent got away down the left and sent over a cross which Danny Dichio stooped to meet at the near post with a header.

Nugent was at it again on the other side of the pitch three minutes later, putting in a centre which midfielder Danny Pugh had the simple task of knocking over the line with a sidefoot finish.

Nugent twice went close to putting his own name on the scoresheet, sending a glancing header wide of the target and then drilling a low shot just the wrong side of the far post.

He only had to wait until the second half was 95 seconds old though, to find the net.

Simon Whaley got to the byline and pulled back a low cross which Nugent steered into the net from six yards.

North End were threatening a rout but the game calmed down.

In the 80th minute, Leeds pulled a goal back through David Healy.

The Northern Ireland international was one of three Preston old boys in the visitors’ side, with Richard Cresswell and Eddie Lewis the others. None of them were afforded the warmest of welcomes by the home fans.

It was Cresswell who set up Healy’s goal, crossing for the striker to net from close in.

Any thoughts of a late comeback from the visitors were put to bed within four minutes of Healy scoring.

North End substitute Lewis Neal, on for Pugh, let fly with a shot from 25 yards which clipped off a Leeds defender and wrongfooted goalkeeper Graham Stack.

This was the start of a six-game unbeaten run for PNE, with further wins against Luton and Leicester, together with draws with Southend, Crystal Palace and Coventry.

It was in the second half of the season that a promotion bid fell apart, with six defeats in the last eight games.