Memory Match: Preston North End crush Rotherham at Deepdale back in 2003

Preston had their shooting boots on for the second game in succession as they beat Rotherham United at Deepdale in September 2003.

Thursday, 25th October 2018, 4:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th October 2018, 10:03 pm

Earlier that week they had beaten Coventry City 4-2 and they put four past the Millers to spark their season into life after a below-par start.

Richard Cresswell, Ricardo Fuller, Graham Alexander and Brian O’Neil were on target in the 4-1 win, the visitors playing the closing stages with 10 men after Shaun Barker was sent off.

North End took an 11th-minute lead, Michael Keane sliding a fine pass through the Rotherham defence for Cresswell to spring the offside trap.

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Graham Alexander scores his penalty against Rotherham United at Deepdale
Graham Alexander scores his penalty against Rotherham United at Deepdale

The striker ran clear and steered a shot past Millers goalkeeper Mike Pollitt.

Only a fine save from Pollitt prevented Fuller from stretching the home side’s lead, the Jamaica international’s shot superbly tipped over the bar.

Rotherham began to get into the game after North End’s early dominance and after a couple of warning shots had gone unheeded, the South Yorkshire outfit equalised on the stroke of half-time.

A corner was cleared out of the box as far as Carl Robinson who fired a shot goalwards.

Michael Keane goes close, but Ricardo Fuller follows up for the rebound

North End goalkeeper Jonathan Gould appeared to have it covered but Darren Byfield flicked out a leg to divert it past Gould and into the net.

At first look, one-time PNE loanee Byfield 
looked offside position but replays showed Alexander was playing him on.

Cresswell had the opportunity to restore the lead in first-half stoppage time but scooped a shot too high after being played in by Alexander’s pass.

The second half was only 10 minutes old when Preston went 2-1 in front.

Keane’s shot was parried by Pollitt but Fuller was on to the rebound like a shot, finding the roof of the net in some style with a shot from a narrow angle to the right of goal.

The three points were effectively put in the bag in the 65th minute when North End scored their third goal of the afternoon and Rotherham went down to 10 men.

Cresswell went to ground in the box under a challenge from centre-back Barker, referee Graham Laws first pointing to the spot before producing the red card for Barker.

Millers boss Ronnie Moore was to claim later it looked harsh, with Barker seemingly getting the ball first – even North End manager Craig Brown accepted it had been on the harsh side.

Once the fuss had died down, Alexander stepped up to the spot to slot home the penalty.

Preston were not finished there, making it 4-1 with 73 minutes on the clock.

Alexander chipped a pass into the box which O’Neil connected with perfectly, volleying into the net.

It was the Scottish midfielder’s first goal in Preston colours and his first anywhere for four years.

Pollitt was forced to make late saves from Alexander and Fuller as the hosts kept their foot on the gas until the final whistle.

Facing the media post-match, Brown felt his side had played better in earlier games only to lose.

So he was pleased to be able to celebrate back-to-back home wins.

Brown said: “We have a bit of ground to make up but fortunately there is still along way to go.”