Memory match: Preston North End’s Boxing Day clash with West Brom had everything

Preston skipper Graham Alexander leads the protests after Danny Dichio is sent off against West Bromwich at The Hawthorns on Boxing Day 2006
Preston skipper Graham Alexander leads the protests after Danny Dichio is sent off against West Bromwich at The Hawthorns on Boxing Day 2006

Preston’s Boxing Day visit to West Bromwich Albion in 2006 had enough to keep fans talking right the way through into the New Year.

They came out on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline but that was only half the tale at the Hawthorns.

From 2-0 down, they got back to 2-2 despite having Danny Dichio sent off at 2-1 for the use of an elbow.

North End looked good for a point until a mistake from keeper Carlo Nash allowed Albion to nudge back ahead.

A fourth goal from the hosts late on, as the visitors looked for a way back into the game, killed it off a contest.

Paul Simpson’s men were the better side in the opening exchanges in the Midlands.

David Nugent had an early sight of goal but put a header too close to Baggies keeper Russell Hoult.

Albion took a sixth-minute lead, Jason Koumas getting the ball on the left. He evaded two challenges as he cut in field and curled a right-foot finish past Nash into the far corner.

Only a fine save from Hoult stopped Paul McKenna from equalising in the 22nd minute.

Hoult dived to push the midfielder’s powerful drive past the post.

It was from that resulting corner that Albion broke on Preston to double their lead.

Clearing their lines, they pushed up the pitch and a low cross from Curtis Davies was turned home by Diomansy Kamara.

To their credit, North End refused to accept they were beaten and began a fightback in the 35th minute.

A cross into the box bounced up and struck Paul Robinson on the hand.

Referee Scott Mathieson pointed to the penalty spot and Graham Alexander did the business from 12 yards.

That was Grezza’s 49th successful penalty in 54 tries for Preston.

Having halved the deficit, PNE sensed they could get back on level terms.

But their task was made all the harder three minutes before half-time.

Dichio and Albion’s Paul McShane went up to compete for a high ball, Mr Mathieson spotting the Preston striker leading with his elbow.

It looked harsh but out came the red card to leave PNE playing with 10 men for the duration.

That didn’t stop them from getting back on level terms in the 66th minute.

McKenna knocked a long ball forward, Nugent getting up to head it into the path of Chris Sedgwick on the right-hand side of the box.

Sedgwick drilled a low cross into the middle and Nugent supplied the finish from six yards.

Parity lasted only seven minutes though, as Albion regained the lead.

A free-kick from Nathan Ellington wasn’t particularly powerful but Nash allowed it to slip through his gloves and roll into the net.

PNE threw everything at their hosts to try and pull it back to 3-3.

A couple of half-chances fell their way but another Nash error saw Albion kill the game off in the 87th minute.

When a cross came into the box, Nash misjudged his punch and sub Ellington was there to head home.

On paper, the home side’s victory looked a comfortable one but it was anything 
but.

Even with 10 men PNE were right in the game until Ellington’s second goal.

Despite the defeat, North End held on to second place in the Championship and won at Sunderland four days later.