Memory match: Becks finds the net for North End

David Beckham holds off the challenge of Fulham's Terry Hurlock
David Beckham holds off the challenge of Fulham's Terry Hurlock

David Beckham scored many free-kicks in his career but the first in league football he showcased in Preston North End’s win against Fulham in March 1995.

On loan from Manchester United, the young midfielder found the net from 25 yards in the 3-2 victory.

Beckham salutes his strike

Beckham salutes his strike

The result moved North End into the Third Division play-off places, Gary Peters having overseen an upturn in form since replacing John Beck in the Deepdale hotseat three months earlier.

Just two defeats in 15 games since Peters assumed office had seen the Lilywhites climb the table and this win saw them gatecrash the top six for the first time.

The visit of Fulham was Beckham’s first PNE start, with him having come off the bench the week before to net direct from a corner against Doncaster Rovers.

North End made a strong start in the game, with Kevin Magee seeing a strong shout for a penalty fall on deaf ears in the 10th minute.

Scottish winger Magee was to play a big part in PNE’s 23rd-minute opener.

Ian Bryson won the ball in midfield and after carrying it up the pitch, laid it off to the overlapping Magee on the left wing.

Magee’s low cross found Mike Conroy in the middle who swept a shot into the net from close range in front of the Kop.

Cottagers goalkeeper Jim Stannard made good saves from Paul Raynor and Simon Davey as Preston looked to add to their lead.

But the hosts were pegged back by a Fulham equaliser in first-half stoppage time.

David Moyes was pulled up for a foul on Nick Cusack outside the box.

Terry Hurlock rolled the free-kick short into the path of Duncan Jupp who drove a powerful shot into the net via the underside of the bar.

North End regained the lead and took control of the contest in a short spell just after half-time.

Beckham hooked the ball over his shoulder to pick out Conroy in the 48th minute.

Conroy turned and played a neat pass through to Raynor in the box, Raynor picking his spot with a low finish beyond Stannard.

Three minutes later came Beckham’s big moment.

Raynor was fouled by Mark Blake, referee Kevin Lynch awarding a free-kick.

Beckham stepped up and curled it right-footed over the wall and into the net, the ball touching the inside of the post on the way in.

It was very nearly 4-1 just after the hour, Beckham’s pass finding Andy Fensome.

The right-back struck a low shot which Stannard got his big frame down to well to tip against the post.

Fulham took heart from that narrow escape and were to finish the game strongly.

PNE keeper John Vaughan saved from John Marshall but could not prevent the visitors reducing the arrears in the closing stages.

The goal came from the penalty spot when North End left-back Ray Sharp tugged Marshall’s shirt.

Blake sent Vaughan the wrong way from the spot to leave the home crowd facing an anxious last few minutes.

Ryan Kidd got in a fine block on a Jupp shot as PNE held firm against the late pressure.

Beckham was to play five games in a Preston shirt, Alex Ferguson recalling him to Old Trafford after a month.

They won three and drew two in his time in Lancashire, North End paying him £400 a week with a £50 appearance bonus during the loan spell.

PNE reached the play-offs after Beckham left, beaten by Bury in the semi-finals.