Memory match: PNE v Reading

PNE centre-half Mike Flynn challenges in the air against Reading at Elm Park
PNE centre-half Mike Flynn challenges in the air against Reading at Elm Park

Preston were like a boxer who refused to accept defeat when they met Reading at Elm Park in September 1990.

Three times PNE were hit by potential knockout blows and three times they climbed off the canvas with equalisers to earn a 3-3 draw.

Warren Joyce, Nathan Peel and Steve Senior found the net for North End in what was their second league game of the 1990/91 campaign.

Peel’s goal came on his full league debut, the teenager volleying the second leveller of the afternoon in some style.

It was set up by another debutant Martin James, who like Peel had come through the youth ranks.

North End made the trip to Berkshire on the back of an opening-day league defeat to Grimsby and victory against Chester in the Rumblelows Cup.

Their yellow shirts bore no advertising, at the time they could not find a replacement for Garratts Insurance who had been the sponsors for the past four seasons.

It was to be a few weeks later that Derek Shaw’s firm Ribble Valley Shelving came on board as shirt sponsors.

In front of a crowd of 4,228, including around 400 Preston fans, Les Chapman’s men fell behind in the sixth minute.

Royals front man Steve Moran sidestepped a tackle from Gary Swann to fire a low shot past Simon Farnworth.

North End equalised 10 minutes later.

John Thomas sent over a cross which led to a scramble in the box. As Reading 
attempted to clear their lines, midfielder Joyce scrambled the ball over the line.

The scoreline stayed on level pegging until first-half stoppage time.

Neil Williams’s back pass fell short of Farnworth and George Friel stole in to lift a shot over the keeper.

Early in the second half there was a let-off for PNE when Jeff Wrightson’s slip let Trevor Senior in.

Fortunately, the Reading striker fired over the bar from 10 yards.

Farnworth made a good save from Moran, tipping his volley over the bar, then at the other end a shot from Thomas was stopped on the line by home keeper Steve Francis.

There was a stoppage in play when Farnworth took a blow to the head from Senior as they challenged for a cross.

It looked like he was out cold and this was in the days before substitute goalkeepers and concerns over the long-term effects of head 
injuries..

Farnworth eventually got up to continue and, still dazed, managed to pull off a fine save from Friel.

Preston pulled it back to 2-2 when James’ cross from the left was met superbly on the volley by Peel from 12 yards, the shot staying low and finding the bottom 
corner.

But within 46 seconds the home side regained the lead as ex-Southampton striker Moran bundled the ball home from close range.

Could Preston come back a third time? The answer was yes.

They made it 3-3 in the 77th minute and it came in some style from right-back Senior, who had arrived at the club on a free transfer from Wigan that summer.

Picking up possession on the right wing, Senior moved upfield before unleashing a shot from 30 yards which flew into the net.

The travelling PNE fans on the open away terrace were right behind it, celebrating wildly.

It still needed a late save from Farnworth to keep hold of a valuable point, as he denied Craig Maskell.