Memory match: Preston North End v Nottingham Forest, October 2003

Pawel Abbot celebrates scoring PNE's winner against Forest at the City Ground
Pawel Abbot celebrates scoring PNE's winner against Forest at the City Ground

Pawel Abbott was Preston North End’s unlikely matchwinner against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in October 2003.

The York-born Polish striker came in for his first league start of that season and within 36 minutes has found the net.

It was a lead which PNE held on to determinedly for the remaining 54 minutes to secure their first away win of the 2003/04 campaign.

Abbott had been Preston’s leading scorer in pre-season but had been overlooked by Craig Brown once the proper football started.

His competitive action had been limited to just nine minutes as a substitute in a League Cup tie a couple of months earlier.

The 21-year-old got his chance against Forest due to injuries to Ricardo Fuller and Richard Cresswell.

Abbott partnered David Healy up front, backed up by Simon Lynch on the bench. Claude Davis and Eddie Lewis joined Cresswell and Fuller on the injured list for this one, meaning it was very much a re-jigged side.

But PNE soon settled and were the better team early doors.

A Paul McKenna shot took a deflection and almost found a way past goalkeeper Darren Ward who managed to turn it past the post.

Healy sent a stooping header just wide when really he should have done better.

The game’s only goal was fashioned from the training ground.

McKenna swung over a free-kick from the left into the middle, Michael Jackson climbing at the far post to head it across goal.

Midfielder Brian O’Neil nodded it forward for Abbott to spin round and sweep a low shot into the net.

Off he ran to celebrate with the 631 PNE supporters behind the goal, the fact the striker ended up in the crowd earning him a yellow card.

Preston keeper Jonathan Gould kept the lead intact with a good save from Gareth Williams.

Abbott almost doubled his tally just before half-time but Ward spread himself to save at the Pole’s feet.

In the second half, Marlon Harewood beat North End’s offside trap to get clear on goal.

But Gould forced him wide in the box and Harewood found the side-netting.

In the 70th minute, Ward fumbled a Lee Cartwright cross which led to a big scramble in the goalmouth.

Abbott saw a shot strike a defender and the follow-up from Healy was blocked on the line.

In the closing stages, the hosts piled on the pressure as you would have expected.

With PNE hanging on for grim death in stoppage time, Matthieu Louis-John’s shot looked destined for the back of the net until McKenna knocked it off the line.

Graham Alexander could have made it a slightly more comfortable finish when he broke clear.

But with only the keeper to beat, the right-back’s shot went straight at Ward.

It mattered not in the end, North End at last having three points to show on from an away game.

Abbott, a £125,000 buy from LKS Lodz in 2001, said his eagerness to thank the PNE fans for their backing had been the reason for the yellow card after scoring.

He said: “I just couldn’t help myself.

“The fans have really got behind me this season.

“So when the ball went in I was in with them before I knew what was I was doing.”

Abbott currently plays for Stomil Olsztyn in Poland.