Memory match: Preston North End’s dramatic first win at the Madejski Stadium was worth the wait
Preston North End’s first league win at the Madejski Stadium came at the ninth time of asking in April 2016.
A victory in the FA Cup had been as good as it got at Reading’s out-of-town ground but the final away match of the 2015/16 campaign was to bring some joy.
It was a dramatic win too, Daniel Johnson scoring a minute into stoppage time to deliver three points.
Stephen Quinn had a few minutes earlier wiped out the lead PNE had held through Jermaine Beckford’s goal early in the second half.
It was a deserved win as the Lilywhites put in the motorway miles for one last time that campaign.
They had enjoyed far the better of the contest once they had come through the first 10 minutes.
Jake Cooper had the ball in the PNE net from a free-kick but the assistant’s flag went up for offside against the Royals centre-half, before North End got into their stride.
Twice in the space of 20 seconds they worked Ali Al Habsi, Paul Gallagher getting to the byline and driving in a cross which the keeper pushed out to Calum Woods who saw his rebound saved.
Gallagher’s curling free-kick into the box was then met by Joe Garner but his flicked header was too close to the keeper.
Johnson, Beckford and Bailey Wright all went close as North End dominated.
The best chance of the lot fell to Beckford in the 28th minute but with only Al Habsi to beat his attempt to dink the ball over the keeper lacked sufficient height and the former Bolton stopper was able to save.
After Beckford had seen a shot go narrowly over the bar early in the second period he got his goal in the 56th minute, the frontman breaking in behind to take Johnson’s pass and lift a shot over Al Habsi and into the net.
Reading had a spell of pressure after the goal, Josh Barrett firing wide from inside the box after Paul McShane had headed the ball into his path.
But North End kept finding openings, Gallagher testing Al Habsi with a low shot.
At the other end, Barrett got away from the PNE defence and into the box, his low shot flashing wide of the far post.
Beckford then might have done better when Johnson’s pass found him on the edge of the box, poking a shot goalwards which Al Habsi saved.
Yann Kermorgant curled a shot inches wide as the hosts pressed for an equaliser, a warning which perhaps was not heeded by North End as less than three minutes later, Quinn’s first-time shot left stand-in keeper Chris Kirkland rooted to the spot as it travelled into the far bottom corner.
Kirkland then kept out Barrett’s low shot with the game up for grabs.
It was North End who grabbed a deserved winner however, the clock ticking just beyond the 90-minute mark when Johnson took Adam Reach’s pass before steering a low shot past Al Habsi.
Off went Johnson to celebrate in front of the travelling PNE fans.
Preston’s next four visits to the Madejski Stadium were all to end of defeat, that sequence broken last November when they won 3-0 in Berkshire thanks to goals from Scott Sinclair, Emil Riis and Brad Potts.
The ground has been renamed this season as the Select Car Leasing Stadium which doesn’t quite have the same ring about it.