Memory Match: Preston's draw with Swansea at Vetch Field in 1988

North End in action at Swansea in October 1988
North End in action at Swansea in October 1988

Preston North End’s visit to the Vetch Field to face Swansea City in October 1988 saw them get to within six minutes of a fifth consecutive league victory.

It was a meeting of two of the in-form sides of the Third Division, with the home side in the higher reaches of the table.

Tony Ellis fires PNE in front at Swansea

Tony Ellis fires PNE in front at Swansea

North End made the trip to South Wales on the back of wins over Bury, Chesterfield, Brentford and Gillingham.

They looked good to put another victory on the board thanks to a Tony Ellis goal on the stroke of half-time.

The lead lasted until the 84th minute, Andy Meville heading the Swans level.

PNE boss John McGrath had made two changes to the side which had won 5-0 against Gillingham four days earlier.

Tony Ellis celebrates his goal at Swansea

Tony Ellis celebrates his goal at Swansea

Adrian Hughes replaced the injured Sam Allardyce, with Mark Patterson in for David Miller.

The visitors started well and Ellis was not too far off target with a volley from just inside the box.

They had the better of the first half and just 10 seconds before the interval, Preston got their noses in front.

David Brown’s goal kick was flicked out by Warren Joyce to Gary Brazil on the right-wing.

Tony Ellis in action against Swansea

Tony Ellis in action against Swansea

Brazil showed a good turn of speed to get away from his marker, before sending over a peach of a cross.

Ellis met it first-time just inside the box, rifling a shot past keeper Ryhs Wilmott.

North End had a couple of chances early in the second half to increase their lead.

But those went begging and steadily Swansea worked their way back into the game.

Brian Mooney congratulates Tony Ellis

Brian Mooney congratulates Tony Ellis

Tommy Hutchinson, who at 41 was the oldest player at the time in the four divisions, was pulling the strings for the home side.

As the pressure grew, Bob Atkins, Jeff Wrightson and Hughes stood firm at the back, with Neil Williams and Mick Rathbone doing a solid job in the wing-back roles.

North End got forward on the break and one of those forays up field saw them have the ball in the net a second time, only for Ellis’ effort to be ruled out for offside.

Just as it looked like PNE would hold out for the three points, Swansea equalised in the 84th minute.

Paul Bodak’s cross from the right-wing was met by Meville who sent a header past Brown.

It was the first goal which Brown had conceded for 519 minutes of league action.

Swansea went looking for a second after that, with the momentum with them.

Meville went close again, while Hutchinson wasn’t far away with a shot from inside the box.

But Preston survived to hold on to their point, one which McGrath was pleased with to say the least.

McGrath said: “I thought we deserved our draw and I’m delighted with the way we battled for it.

“Swansea threw a lot at us but we stood firm and David Brown hardly had a shot to save.

“Our goal was an absolute gem, Tony Ellis is on fire at the moment and I know that a few scouts have been looking at him.”

It was Ellis’ fourth goal in five league games in a season when he finished as North End’s leading scorer with 20 goals.