Classic PNE game series: Preston 2 Shrewsbury 2 - on the brink of promotion in 1978
Preston North End’s 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury Town at Deepdale on April 29, 1978, told only half the story of the Lilywhites’ promotion from the Third Division.
Supporters swarmed on to the pitch at full-time, a late Alex Bruce equaliser having earned North End a point.
It put them to within touching distance of clinching the third and final promotion slot but not quite.
Peterborough, the only side who could pip them, had a game in hand.
This was an era when the odd game drifted beyond the official last day – no uniform finish in front of the cameras.
At the same time PNE had drawn with Shrewsbury, the Posh had been beaten 4-3 by Chester.
But two days later, on Bank Holiday Monday, Peterborough had one last go at getting promotion when they travelled to Wrexham, who were already up as champions.
Back to the Shrewsbury game, and North End trailed 2-1 at half-time.
Mike Elwiss had netted for PNE but it was the visitors who held the upper hand in front of a 16,078 crowd.
The home side trailed until the 81st minute when Bruce levelled with his 30th goal of the season.
It meant they held a one-point lead over Peterborough ahead of Posh’s visit to North Wales to face Wrexham.
A number of PNE fans were to swell the crowd at the Racecourse Ground on May 1.
Preston manager Nobby Stiles and some of the board of directors were in attendance too.
Back at Deepdale, the PNE players gathered to watch a Central League reserve game which kicked off an hour before Wrexham and Posh.
Fans and players alike had a nervous wait for news from the Racecourse.
The champagne corks stared popping when Wrexham and Peterborough shared a goalless draw, meaning North End went up on goal difference.
It proved a fine first season in management for Stiles, assisted by PNE legend Alan Kelly.