Memory match: Preston North End pegged back at Bramall Lane

Preston striker Richard Cresswell celebrates after scoring the second goal against Sheffield United
Preston striker Richard Cresswell celebrates after scoring the second goal against Sheffield United

Preston North End returned from Bramall Lane with a point in December 2001 but all three should have brought back over the Pennines.

A dominant performance in the first half saw them two goals to the good by half-time.

Richard Cresswell steers home Preston's second goal against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in December 2001

Richard Cresswell steers home Preston's second goal against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in December 2001

But Sheffield United fought back to scored twice after the interval to claim a share of the points.

It still saw the Lilywhites extend their unbeaten run to 11 games and was a 13th point gathered on the road.

David Moyes’ men were in the top four when they made the trip to South Yorkshire.

They had beaten United 3-0 in the reverse fixture at Deepdale six weeks before and the way they played in the opening 45 minutes was to suggest they could match or better that scoreline.

North End went ahead in the 13th minute when David Healy found the net.

Less than a year earlier the Northern Ireland striker had scored on his Preston debut at the same venue.

A good run from Richard Cresswell was the catalyst for the goal.

George Santos made two attempts to bring him down and finally succeeded with a third challenge 10 yards from the box.

Healy took the resulting free-kick, his right-foot shot clipping Shane Nicholson in the wall and wrong-footing keeper Simon Tracey.

Carl Asaba went close to a Blades equaliser, turning past Colin Murdock and shooting just wide of the target.

A change of referee was needed after half-an-hour when Mike Pike came off as he was suffering from a virus.

His senior assistant Alan Rawcliffe took the whistle, the fourth official became linesman and a local referee was plucked out of the crowd to do the fourth official duty.

North End scored their second goal on the stroke of half-time.

A smart through ball from Healy slid Richard Cresswell through on goal, the striker holding off a challenge and stabbing a shot past Tracey.

No doubt Moyes’ half-time team talk included the need to hold firm in the early stages of the second half against the expected onslaught.

But less than two minutes after the re-start, United had halved the deficit.

Paul Peschisolido was on target with a solo effort, one which started in midfield when he chested the ball down.

The Canadian turned and set off towards goal, the PNE defence backing off.

As he approached the box, Peschisolido let fly with a shot which beat goalkeeper David Lucas.

Five minutes later, Lucas made a good one-handed save to deny Peter Ndlovu.

Cresswell thought he had scored his second goal of the contest in the 64th minute but was judged offside after two Healy shots had been blocked.

Jon Macken on as a sub for Healy, forced Tracey into a diving save with a shot from the edge of the box.

But North End had largely been on the back foot in the second half and their defence was breached for the United equaliser in the 80th minute.

Substitute Patrick Suffo scuffed a shot across the face of goal and Santos arrived at the back post to knock the ball over the line under the challenge of Paul McKenna.

The PNE players shouted for handball against Santos but the goal stood.

In stoppage time, Preston were close to reclaiming the lead and getting the victory.

Chris Lucketti got on the end of a corner, the defender sending a header goalwards.

But Tracey got down to hold it as Cresswell sniffed for a rebound.