Memory match...PNE v MK Dons

Joe Garner
Joe Garner
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Preston North End’s draw with MK Dons at Deepdale 16 months ago was a landmark occasion for Joe Garner.

The striker’s 35th minute goal in the 2-2 draw was his first goal in a PNE shirt.

He had failed to find the net in 17 previous appearances since a free transfer move from Watford.

Although the goal against MK Dons did not immediately set him off on a spree, it at least got him up and running.

Garner now has 36 goals to his name at North End, although the next one will be some months away due to him being currently sidelined after knee surgery.

The striker’s inclusion in last August’s clash came as something of a surprise.

It was expected that either Stuart Beavon or Iain Hume would partner Kevin Davies in the Lilywhites attack.

But PNE manager Simon Grayson had liked what he had seen in training from Garner and gave him the nod.

The game might have been in the early weeks of the season but it was played in a downpour and on a slick pitch.

Nevertheless, there was plenty of entertainment for a 9,944 crowd.

In the first half Preston were the better side and were in front by the 10th minute.

A Lee Holmes pass from the centre circle was missed by Dons defender Shaun Williams, leaving Chris Humphrey acres of space to chase it down the right-wing.

Humphrey drilled over a low cross which Anthony Kay turned into the roof of his own net as he tried to clear.

Kevin Davies and Tom Clarke had chances to stretch the lead before MK Dons equalised in the 31st minute.

It was a stylish leveller too, Jason Banton coming inside off the left-wing and finding the top corner of the net from 30 yards.

Within four minutes North End had regained the lead as Garner broke his duck.

Jon Otsemobor got an unwanted square pass on the edge of his own box and hastily tried to turn it back to keeper David Martin.

It fell short, that allowing Garner to nip in and poke the ball past the keeper.

Garner said: “It was nice for their centre-half to roll me through.

“Everyone knows that MK Dons like to play out from the back, so I kind of saw the goal coming – if you keep gambling it pays off.

“When the backpass went in, I thought that I was either going to get taken out or I would score,

“So it was a penalty or a goal and fortunately I scored the goal.

“It was nice to get off the mark and nice to score at home.”

North End held the lead which Garner had given them until the 63rd minute.

Humphrey’s clumsy tackle on substitute Samir Curruthers saw referee Mark Brown point to the spot.

Up stepped Williams to send Declan Rudd the wrong way with the penalty.

There were chances later on for either side to have won the game.

Martin saved at the feet of Holmes after the winger had burst into the box, then Nicky Wroe had the ball in the net but the effort was chalked out by an offside flag.

Patrick Bamford got clear to the right of goal in the 83rd minute but shot wide.