Memory match: When Polish ace delivered three points for Preston North End at Nottingham Forest

Pawel Abbott delivered a first away win for Preston North End of the 2003/2004 season and got a yellow card as a souvenir of the occasion.

By Dave Seddon
Thursday, 4th November 2021, 3:00 pm

The Polish striker got an unexpected recall to the PNE side for the clash with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on October 1, 2003.

Until that night he’d only played nine minutes of senior football that season, hence his delight at netting the contest’s only goal.

Abbott jumped into the travelling North End fans to celebrate finding the net in the 36th minute.

North End’s Pawel Abbott celebrates scoring the only goal of the game against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in October 2003

Once the hugging had finished, referee Richard Beeby booked him for taking things a little too far.

It was a small price for Abbott and PNE to pay, there just a sense of relief that at the fifth time of asking, three points had been put on the board on their travels.

Preston boss Craig Brown had been without Ricardo Fuller and Richard Cresswell for the trip to the East Midlands, hence the call for Abbott to partner David Healy up front.

Simon Lynch had been the other option but Brown had assumed Forest would play Michael Dawson at the back, a strong and powerful defender.

Brown thought Abbott would be better equipped than the slight figure of Lynch for a battle with Dawson.

As it was, Forest rested Dawson but Abbott proved the ideal choice in the end.

PNE wore a dark blue away for the occasion, not one they sported too often that season.

The boys in dark blue made a decent start to the game, Paul McKenna having a shot which took a wicked deflection and forced Forest keeper Darren Ward into a fine diving save.

After half an hour, Healy’s stooping header past just the wrong side of the target.

North End’s winner came a few minutes later at a time when Forest were down to 10 men while Danny Sonner had stitches put in a head wound.

They won a free-kick on the left touchline, one which McKenna delivered deep to the far post.

In a routine straight off the training ground, Michael Jackson headed the ball back into the middle, Brian O’Neil nodded it forward and there was Abbott to spin and sweep a shot into the net.

The 613 PNE supporters were at that end of the City Ground and off went Abbott over the advertising boards to temporarily become the 614th.

“I couldn’t help myself, I was so overjoyed,” said Abbott later.

“The fans have been really good to me this season so when the ball hit the net I was amongst them before I knew what I was doing.”

In the second half, Abbott saw a shot saved as North End looked to stretch the lead.

Brown was left fuming when the assistant’s flag stayed down as Marlon Harewood raced clear to meet a through ball.

Fortunately Harewood put his shot into the side-netting but that didn’t stop the former Scotland boss making his feelings known to the fourth official.

When a low cross was fumbled by Ward, Abbott got to the loose ball and saw his shot blocked by a defender.

In the latter stages, PNE lived dangerously as they clung on to the 1-0 lead.

Having played 4-4-2, Brown switched in the last few minutes to five at the back by putting on defender Rob Edwards for Healy.

It still needed a goalline clearance from McKenna to keep the lead, the midfielder kicking away a header from Matthieu Louis-John to the relief of the PNE faithful.