Memory match: PNE v Sheffield Wednesday 2001
Preston North End struck Sheffield Wednesday with an early second-half double whammy when the sides met at Deepdale in February 2001.
After struggling to break down the visitors before the interval, Paul McKenna and Jon Macken struck twice in three minutes.
Victory over the Owls moved PNE to 53 points – the initial target David Moyes had set for his side at the start of that season.
It proved a good month for them, Moyes’ men taking 12 points from the 15 on offer in February – the only fly in the ointment had been a defeat against Birmingham City.
Over the next couple of months they were to push on and claim a play-off spot.
In the first half, North End were smothered by the Owls’ five-man midfield.
They struggled to create a chance worthy of note and Moyes was later to admit that he ‘had words’ with his team over the half-time brew in a bid to get them going.
Moyes got the response he was seeking with the second half very much in its infancy.
McKenna found the net in the 49th minute, pulling the trigger on a wonderful shot from 25 yards.
Within three minutes, the advantage was doubled by Macken.
Moyes had started with a 4-3-3 formation, surprising everyone by giving Icelandic striker Bjarki Gunnlaugsson only his fourth start of the campaign.
Gunnlaugsson joined Macken and David Healy in a three-man attack.
In the first half, McKenna tested Owls goalkeeper Kevin Pressman with a long-range free-kick – one the gloveman dealt with comfortably.
At the other end, Colin Murdock blocked a shot from Trond Soltvedt.
North End took the lead with the fans hardly having had time to settle in their seats after half-time.
Graham Alexander, who was back in the side after a nine-game absence with a punctured lung, put in a cross from the right-wing.
It hit Wednesday’s Carlton Palmer on the head and fell to Rob Edwards.
He laid it back into the path of McKenna who struck a right-foot screamer into the corner of the net.
The second goal arrived within three minute.
Edwards played his part again, getting down the left wing and lifting a cross into the middle.
Gunnlaugsson met it with a glancing header which was travelling wide of the target until Macken ghosted in at the far post to slide the ball home from close range.
Soon after, PNE missed a chance to make it 3-0.
Healy saw a shot from the edge of the box cannon off a defender’s backside and fly behind when Macken was stood unmarked next to him.
In the closing stages of the contest, Murdock nodded a McKenna free-kick across goal and towards Macken.
But the front man was off balance and could only put a header over the bar.
In the 89th minute, the Owls went close to halving the deficit and setting-up a nervous finish for the home faithful.
Des Walker lofted a free-kick into the box, one which Efan Ekouko headed against the underside of the bar.
As it bounced down close to the line, Edwards was on hand to hack the ball out for a corner.
Moyes said: “At half-time we told them they had to play much better than they had they had.
“But it wasn’t easy playing against 4-5-1 and especially when half the Wednesday team could easily fit into a basketball side.”