Memory match: PNE v MK Dons

Timing was everything when Bailey Wright scored his first senior goal for Preston in their Deepdale meeting with MK Dons in April 2012.

Thursday, 14th April 2016, 11:00 am
Bailey Wright is congratulated by Chris Holroyd, Iain Hume and Jamie Proctor after his equaliser against MK Dons in April 2012

Not only did his header in the 90th minute rescue a point for the Lilywhites, it ensured that a very special birthday party did not fall flat.

North End were celebrating the 90th birthday of Sir Tom Finney, the landmark having fallen two days earlier.

Before the game, a long list of video birthday messages were played on the big screen above the Bill Shankly Kop.

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There was a parade of former players at half-time and later in the afternoon, Wright made his own mark on the occasion.

A 90th-minute goal for a 90th birthday party, it could not have been timed better.

Interviewed afterwards, Wright said: “This was a big game and a big day for Preston with it being just after Sir Tom Finney’s birthday.

“Before the game, my dad texted me from Melbourne and told me to go and score the winner, do it for all of them back in Australia.

“It wasn’t quite the winner but it came in the 90th minute and was the equaliser.”

North End had trailed from the 27th minute when the visitors edged ahead against the run of play.

Adam Chicksen’s through ball carved open the Preston defence, allowing Darren Potter to run clear and lift a shot over Thorsten Stuckmann.

Until then, North End had played well, Chris Holroyd forcing a save out of keeper David Martin and later putting a good chance wide.

After Potter’s opener, another Holroyd chance saw the striker put a header against the bar from a Danny Mayor corner.

Early in the second half, Paul Coutts met Mayor’s pass in the box, only to see his shot hit defender Gary McKenzie full in the face.

Coutts tested the keeper with a shot from the edge of the box and soon after, put a free-kick high over the bar.

With time running out, Preston got their equaliser, to the delight of the majority of the 13,941 crowd.

Potter’s foul on Holroyd down the left channel brought the hosts a free-kick.

North End packed the box, with goalkeeper Stuckmann adding his height and giant frame to the attack.

Mayor lifted the set-piece into the middle, where Wright ran in to power a header into the net.

As the players celebrated, the home fans launched into a chorus of ‘there’s only one Tom Finney’.

Wright, who was only 19 at the time, said: “It was a great ball from Danny Mayor and he’s capable of doing that.

“I thought he showed his quality throughout the game.

“I headed it from somewhere in front of the penalty spot although I didn’t know that much about it.

“As I got up from the ground I looked up and the ball was in the back of the net.

“What might have helped us is Thorsten Stuckmann going up into the box.

“Stucki was by far the biggest player on the pitch and it would have been in their minds that someone as big as that was up there.”

Australian international Wright is the only player from the Preston side that day who is still at Deepdale.