Memory Match: Four-goal victory for Preston North End against Wigan Athletic in 1997
Preston North End scored four goals in an away game for the first time in more than two years as they swept aside Wigan Athletic at Springfield Park in November 1997.
The 4-1 win was the perfect response to a midweek home defeat to Bristol Rovers five days earlier and lifted some of the pressure on PNE boss Gary Peters who had been feeling the heat after a rather up-and-down campaign.
Lee Cartwright found the net twice, with Lee Ashcroft and Ryan Kidd on target too.
Wigan had no answer to North End on the day, with John Deehan’s side finding themselves outplayed for spells of the game.
Peters’ men had lost four games in a row in October and early November that year, that run giving way to two wins – one in the league and another in the FA Cup.
Then came the defeat to Bristol Rovers which had led to calls for Peters to go.
This short trip a few junctions down the M6 certainly settled things down on that front.
A switch from a 3-5-2 system to 4-4-2 worked well, Cartwright given a start for the first time in more than a month on the right-wing.
Dean Barrick came in at left-back, centre-back Colin Murdock dropping down to the bench.
North End seemed right up for the fight from the start and Mark Rankine should have scored inside quarter of an hour when he went through on goal.
But it was Wigan keeper Lee Butler who came out on top in that particular duel and the chance went begging.
Soon PNE were in front though, Ashcroft’s ball up the left flank chased by Michael Appleton.
Butler raced out of his box to force Appleton wide but the PNE midfielder was able to play a pass inside into the path of Cartwright.
The winger’s first touch was heavy but the second forced the ball over the line.
Chances fell for Appleton and Tony Lormor while at the other end early in the second half, Preston keeper Teuvo Moilanen made saves from David Lowe and Colin Greenall.
North End made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute, Cartwright brushing past Kevin Sharp as he surged into the box and beat Butler with a low shot.
That lead was halved six minutes later, Ian Kilford meeting a cross at the near post to volley home.
The visitors wobbled somewhat at that point, Michael Jackson having to make a timely clearance out of the box after Moilanen fluffed a punch.
Thankfully North End regained their grip on the play and were to wrap-up the three points with two more goals in the last 19 minutes.
Sean Gregan had forced Butler into a good save and Rankine put a chance too high before PNE found the net for the third goal in the 71st minute.
Gregan played a fine ball down the inside left channel for Appleton to chase.
He reached it and cut a fine ball into the middle which Ashcroft dispatched into the net from 12 yards.
Three minutes later, a corner from Appleton was met by Kidd in the air who powered home a header.
It was centre-half Kidd’s first goal in two-and-a-half years and one he enjoyed.
Lormor could have added to the scoreline after getting on the end the end of a cross from Cartwright but he put his chance over the bar.
North End: Moilenen, Parkinson, Jackson Kidd, Barrick, Cartwright (Darby 84), Gregan, Rankine, Appleton, Ashcroft, Lormor. Unused subs: Murdock, Holt.