PNE retro game: Back to 1972 when Alan Ball Sr was manager
The 4-0 victory which Preston North End achieved against Portsmouth in March 1972 was long overdue.
It was their first win of the calendar year in league action and pushed them two points closer to the target manager Alan Ball had set them to avoid relegation.
They had gone seven games in the Second Division without a victory, their first campaign back at that level having not quite gone to plan.
This proved to be their joint biggest win of the 71/72 season and, in truth, North End’s margin of victory could have been greater.
Hugh McIlmoyle, Neil Young, Alan Tarbuck and George Lyall found the net in front of a 10,575 crowd.
That was more than 7,000 down on the last Deepdale gate a month earlier.
Bear in mind, too, that five weeks before more than 37,000 had packed into the ground for an FA Cup fourth round tie with Manchester United.
Ball had stuck with the same XI which had started at Sheffield Wednesday the week before, Alan Lamb again named as substitute.
Preston took the lead in the 11th minute and didn’t look back from there.
Young’s throw-in was headed on by Tarbuck and found its way through to McIlmoyle in the box.
From a tight angle, the striker turned and found the net with a shot which spun in off the Pompey keeper.
It was McIlmoyle’s first goal of 1972 and first in front of the home faithful since September.
Headers from Tarbuck and Ricky Heppolette both went over the bar as North End pressed for a second.
At the other end, PNE keeper Alan Kelly needed treatment from trainer Harry Hubbick after colliding with Portsmouth’s Mike Tredlicock who had broken into the box.
The Lilywhites doubled their lead a minute before half-time, Lyall splitting the Pompey defence with a fine pass.
Young raced on to it and fired a low shot past the keeper.
In the second half, Young and Tarbuck went close with shots as North End grew in confidence.
Young forced a fine save out of the goalkeeper with a thunderous shot.
Preston’s pressure was rewarded with two more goals in the last 11 minutes.
In the 79th minute, a cross from Young was headed on by McIlmoyle and Tarbuck headed into the net.
Then a penalty, with 89 minutes played, completed the scoring.
Lyall was brought down by Fred Smith in the box, the referee having no hesitation in pointing to to the spot.
Lyall stepped up and found the net with a well-struck penalty.
PNE went on to finish 18th that season, winning just one of their final 11 games and avoiding the drop by two points.
They won just once away all season – that a 1-0 victory at Middlesbrough – their Deepdale form needed to prop them up.
PNE: Kelly, Connor, Bird, Hawkins, McNab, Spavin, Heppolette, Lyall, Tarbuck, Young, McIlmoyle.