Memory match: Wolves v PNE

There had been slim pickings at Molineux for Preston until their Boxing Day visit in 2000.

Thursday, 4th May 2017, 11:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:49 pm
Sean Gregan and Jon Macken watch Iain Andersons header go into the net against Wolves at Molineux on Boxing Day 2000

The Lilywhites had not beaten Wolves on their own patch in league action since November 1952.

A victory in the League Cup in 1984 had been as good as it had got in the meantime.

So this Christmas 1-0 win for David Moyes’ side was long overdue.

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Their match winner was Iain Anderson, the winger making a timely return from a hamstring strain to feature.

He headed the contest’s only goal in the 14th minute, a lead which a patched-up side shut up shop on to defend.

It got Preston briefly back on track after two successive defeats, part of a run of just one win in five.

That said, five losses on the bounce were to follow.

Moyes packed midfield for the trip to West Midlands, Jon Macken playing as a lone front man.

Anderson returned on the right wing and this was not the first time he performed a Lazarus act.

The Scotsman has come back from injury to score at Sheffield Wednesday three months earlier.

And the month before this one, Anderson – a £500,000 signing from French club Toulouse – had netted twice on his return after a lay-off.

Moyes said: “We took a big gamble on him and it paid off thankfully.

“I thought it was going to be too early for him but we were a little short of players, so we took the risk.”

Early in the game, Wolves had their best chance of the game, Carl Robinson meeting an Andy Sinton free-kick and forcing David Lucas into a fine save.

It was the one serious save for the Preston goalkeeper all afternoon.

North End went in front after Graham Alexander’s corner from the right caused havoc in the Wolves box.

In the ensuing scramble, the ball bounced up in front of Anderson and he looped a header into the top corner.

George Ndah and Adam Proudlock had efforts for the home side as they chased an equaliser.

Preston almost doubled the lead, Rob Edwards’ cross finding Michael Jackson whose header was superbly saved by Wolves goalkeeper Michael Oakes.

Anderson ran out of steam seven minutes into the second half, replaced by Brian Barry-Murphy.

It gave the PNE midfield an even more solid look and did reduce their attacking threat.

As Wolves increased the pressure, Preston stood firm.

Skipper Sean Gregan was rock solid at the back, 
engaged in a real battle against Ndah.

After the final whistle had sounded to send 2,000 PNE fans home happy, Moyes said: “Any team who beats Wolves at home will have to play very well.

“We had to change things around because we were short of numbers but the lads did brilliantly.”

After waiting so long for a league win on Wolves soil, two came along.

The following Boxing Day, PNE won 3-2, Anderson again among the scorers.

They won again in 2006 early in Paul Simpson’s reign, then three years later when Alan Irvine was manager.

Last season, North End were 2-1 winners at Molineux.

Paul Gallagher and Adam Reach found the net, part of a four-game winning run in February 2016.

Sunday’s visit to Wolves will be the 120th meeting between two founder members of the Football League.

PNE have won 49, Wolves 44, while there have been 26 draws.