Memory match: Fleetwood v PNE

Joe Garner celebrates his hat-trick with Paul Gallagher
Joe Garner celebrates his hat-trick with Paul Gallagher
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Preston North End and Fleetwood served up a game of two contrasting halves in their first ever competitive meeting earlier this season.

The first half belonged mainly to Graham Alexander’s Cod Army, the second most definitely to PNE and, in particular, Joe Garner.

Fleetwood were 2-0 up within six minutes as they caught the Lilywhites cold in the October 25 clash.

Stephen Jordan powered home a header in the opening seconds, an advantage which was stretched by Scott Laird’s own goal. The swing in North End’s favour started during the interval as Simon Grayson shuffled the pack.

He introduced John Welsh and Kevin Davies to the action, with Chris Humphrey joining them 10 minutes into the second half.

The changes worked a treat as three goals in 18 minutes – all from Garner – turned the tables and gave PNE victory.

Bragging rights had looked to be heading Fleetwood’s way as they raced out of the traps.

It seemed it would be a happy Deepdale return for Alexander, who was given a warm reception as he walked from the tunnel to take up residence in the away section of the technical area.

Just 53 seconds had gone when a corner delivered from the right by Antoni Sarcevic was met by centre-half Jordan, who sent a header into the roof of the net.

Preston were still dusting themselves down from that when they conceded again in the seventh minute.

Again Sarcevic was the creator, his low cross turned into his own net by Laird at the near post.

There were brief glimpses of a fightback in the latter stages of the first half but it was during the interval when the battle lines were really drawn by Grayson.

Off came Kyel Reid and Alan Browne, on came hardened campaigners Welsh and Davies.

The second half was not 10 minutes old when Grayson made his final throw of the dice, Humphrey replacing Laird at right-back.

North End cut the deficit in the 60th minute, a corner from Paul Gallagher having been cleared out of the box.

Neil Kilkenny chased to recover and chipped the ball over to the far post for Garner to jump and angle a header past keeper Chris Maxwell.

The equaliser came three minutes later, Welsh lifting a cross from the right-hand channel into the box.

It found Garner, who used all the power of his neck muscles to send a header into the net from 10 yards.

Having Davies alongside him for the second half was really benefiting Garner and the pair combined for PNE’s winner 12 minutes from time.

Jack King launched a long ball forward from his own half, Davies headed it on into the path of Garner, who finished with a clinical half-volley from 15 yards.

Garner, who was skipper in the absence of the ill Tom Clarke, could not hide his joy in the post-match interviews.

The striker said: “To captain the side at Deepdale, score a hat-trick and beat Fleetwood in a derby match is a great feeling.

“Kevin Davies was top drawer when he came on – he attracted so much attention and that freed up space for me to move into.”