Memory match: PNE v Wigan Athletic (April 2005)

Preston are overdue a home victory against Wigan as the sides prepare to meet in front of the cameras.

Thursday, 22nd September 2016, 12:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:48 pm
Brian O'Neil heads Preston's equaliser against Wigan in April 2005

The Lilywhites last beat Latics at Deepdale in April 1995, Allan Smart scoring the game’s only goal.

There have been seven meetings since, five of them ending in draws and Wigan winning twice.

One of the draws was a 4-4 affair in the League Cup 20 years ago.

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Wigan also scored four in their league visits in August 1999 and January 2004.

That said, North End have tended to fair better on their visits to Wigan.

It was on April 30, 2005, that the teams last met in the league.

North End had the play-offs in their sights and Wigan were edging towards automatic promotion.

A lunchtime kick-off saw 20,221 inside Deepdale, the clash ending in a 1-1 draw.

Both goals came during the first half, Lee McCulloch’s header cancelled out by a 
Brian O’Neil equaliser.

North End had gone into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat at Millwall, although before that had won three games on the bounce.

The night before though, a 2-1 defeat for West Ham against Sunderland at Upton Park had ensured a slot in the play-offs for Preston.

Wigan made the trip up the M6 with the chance of clinching promotion.

Had they won and nearest rivals Ipswich failed to win, Paul Jewell’s men would have gone up.

But this draw meant they had to wait another week to complete the job of reaching the Premier League.

The game lacked a bit of quality because of what was at stake and was a somewhat edgy affair.

North End supporters were in carnival mood after being assured a top-six place.

Their side started well, David Nugent and Richard Cresswell having chances in the opening stages. It was against the run of play that Wigan took the lead in the 24th minute.

Graham Kavanagh put over a free-kick from the left channel which McCulloch rose to guide a header past PNE keeper Carlo Nash.

The Lilywhites pushed for a leveller and one duly arrived in the 41st minute.

It came from O’Neil, this only the Scottish midfielder’s third goal of the campaign.

Like the Wigan goal, it came from a free-kick.

Paul McKenna delivered the set-piece over to the far post where O’Neil was left unmarked to head past John Filan.

Chances were few and far between in the second half as the game got scrappy.

Nash saved a shot from Nathan Ellington, before an effort from McCulloch went wide of the target.

Late on, PNE centre-back Chris Lucketti put a header the wrong side of the post.

Afterwards, North End manager Billy Davies said: “I thought we were very, very good and created very good chances.

“We knew that it would be difficult and know how good Wigan are – so I couldn’t ask any more from the players.

“We’ve still got a job to do and we look forward to the remaining games – I’m delighted with the effort.”

Davies’ opposite number Jewell said: “We got ourselves in front against the run of play and then conceded a goal from a set-piece – I was disappointed with that.

“We were nowhere near our best but we dug in and nicked a point.”

The following weekend, Wigan beat Reading 3-1 to take them into the Premier League.

North End beat Derby over two legs in the play-offs, setting up a meeting with West Ham at the Millennium Stadium.

Unfortunately, a poor spectacle in Cardiff saw the Hammers win 1-0.