The victory on October 10, 1987, was North End’s first at Deepdale since the final day of the previous season – one which had rounded-off their promotion campaign.
They had found life in the Third Division tough going, with just a single victory in their first 11 league games.
PNE’s recruitment had been poor in preparation for the higher division, coupled with the sale of John Thomas who had been their leading scorer in the 1986/87 season.
This win over Vale was a change in fortune and at the heart of it were two new boys who had arrived in the week leading up to the game.
Tony Ellis had arrived in a £23,000 deal from Oldham, followed by Liverpool winger Brian Mooney on a month’s loan.
North End already had a £25,000 agreed for Mooney once the loan finished.
What bargain signings both turned out to be, even if a few years down the line Ellis was to blot his copybook with the PNE faithful.
Mooney was outstanding on his Lilywhites bow, while Ellis produced a grandstand finish to the game.
He scored a 90th minute winner, capping a dramatic comeback on PNE’s part.
With 16 minutes left, they had trailed 2-0 with the three points seemingly heading to the Potteries with Vale.
But two Gary Brazil goals hauled the home side level and then Ellis struck right at the death to become a hero.
North End boss of the time, John McGrath, missed the game because of illness.
The victory provided him with the perfect tonic.
Mooney and Ellis had gone straight into the team following their arrivals.
PNE’s poor run looked set to continue when they fell behind in the first half.
Jeff Wrightson fouled Ray Walker in the box and it was the midfielder who dusted himself down to score from the penalty spot.
Vale keeper Mark Grew produced a string of saves to prevent a PNE equaliser, his side then doubling their lead in the 55th minute.
David Brown, the Preston goalkeeper, was penalised for taking more than four steps in the box.
It earned Vale an indirect free-kick, Walker drilling it into the bottom corner.
Mooney’s debut came to an end in the 73rd minute when he came off with a slight injury – North End making a double change.
Within a minute they had cut the deficit, Brazil getting clear of the Vale back four and then going round Grew before slotting home.
Preston equalised in the 86th minute, a foul on Sam Allardyce by centre-half Bob Hazel seeing the referee point to the spot.
Brazil stepped-up to score the penalty and there was still more drama to come.
In the 90th minute, sub Frank Worthington’s cross field pass found Wrightson.
He sent over a cross which Ellis tucked away to send Deepdale wild.
PNE: Brown, Rathbone, Atkins, Allardyce, Jones, Bennett, Miller (Worthington 73), Mooney (Swann 73), Wrightson, Brazil, Ellis.