Memory match as Preston North End come from behind to win at Birmingham City
Preston North End’s 3-1 victory against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s four years ago is one still fondly remembered by the Lilywhites’ faithful.
It came in the early days of Alex Neil’s reign, a vibrant PNE side overturning a 1-0 deficit by scoring three goals in an 11-minute spell.
They pressed and harried the Blues into submission and served notice of the type of football Neil wanted from his team.
The result was significant in that it brought to an end Harry Redknapp’s spell as Birmingham manager.
Redknapp did the normal post-match interviews totally unaware that plans were being made to axe him.
The sack came a couple of hours after the final whistle, with the ground deserted.
This was North End’s first away win since January 2 that year, much of that run covered by Simon Grayson’s last few months in charge. Neil was starting to get his feet under the table at PNE by the time he took them to the West Midlands, his side having lost just once in Championship action.
They weren’t great in the first half, falling behind to a goal from Maxime Colin which took a deflection off Paul Huntington on its way past Chris Maxwell.
But they turned the game on its head with three goals between the 56th minute and 67th minute.
Daniel Johnson equalised with a fine shot from 20 yards.
Jordan Hugill fired North End in front from a fine Josh Harrop pass, with Sean Maguire setting up the third goal for Tom Barkhuizen.
On the second-half performance, it was a thoroughly deserved victory, Birmingham no match for PNE’s movement.
North End had the game’s first chance in the fifth minute,Harrop’s cross from the right sliced towards his own goal by Harlee Dean as he attempted to clear, forcing goalkeeper David Stockdale to push it behind.
Jeremie Boga dragged a shot wide and then rolled an effort straight to Maxwell after cutting into the box from the left wing.
The home side edged in front in the 35th minute, Colin overlapping on the left-wing to reach a pass down the side of the box.
Colin turned Maguire who had tracked back and beat Maxwell with a low drive.
Neil swapped the forward line around at the interval, Maguire moving into the No.10 role behind Hugill, with Barkhuizen moving across to the right and Harrop switching to the left.
What a difference the shake-up made as the game was turned on its head.
North End’s equaliser arrived in the 56th minute, Barkhuizen winning the ball on halfway, just in front of the dug-outs.
He came in-field and seemed to overrun the ball but it was picked up by Johnson, who motored forward as the home defence backed off before picking his spot with a sweet left-foot finish from 20 yards.
Hugill gave them the lead after an hour, Barkhuizen snapping away at the heels of Colin and eventually forcing him to lose the ball on the edge of his own box.
The ball fell to Harrop who played a first-time pass to find Hugill down the right-hand side of the box, Hugill’s shot getting a slight touch on its way past Stockdale.
PNE netted their third in the 67th minute, Johnson’s slide-rule pass from 30 yards out playing Maguire behind the home defence.
Maguire squared it into the path of Barkhuizen who had the simple task of knocking it into the net.