PNE ace found net for Scunny

Joe Garner on target against Scunthorpe in August
Joe Garner on target against Scunthorpe in August
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Joe Garner rediscovered his goal touch while wearing the claret and blue of North End’s opponents this weekend, Scunthorpe United.

The striker was borrowed by the Iron from parent club Nottingham Forest for the second half of the 2010-11 season.

Surplus to requirements at the City Ground, Garner – who was aged 22 at the time – was nursing his ego after suffering a miserable spell while out on loan at Huddersfield Town during the first part of that season.

Then Terriers manager Lee Clark had signed the front man during the summer to spearhead Town’s promotion bid from League One.

Unfortunately, the move did not go according to plan for Garner and he failed to find the back of the net during his time at the Galpharm Stadium.

Sent back to Forest at the end of the year, Garner was immediately snapped up by Scunthorpe, who were fighting for survival in the Championship.

Despite failing to find the back of the net in 16 matches in League One for Huddersfield, Garner found more luck in front of goal in the second tier of English football.

He notched on his second appearance for the Iron – although it was Scunthorpe’s only bright moment in a 5-1 defeat by Hull City at Glanford Park.

However, a double-goal salvo by Garner inspired a brilliant fightback against Sheffield United at home a few games later.

Trailing 2-0 after the visitors scored twice inside the opening 10 minutes, Garner pulled the scores level before the interval.

The home side went on to win the match 3-2 – it was the first time Garner tasted victory in Scunny colours.

Garner went on to score three more times for Scunthorpe, including hitting the winner against Premier League-bound Swansea City.

Despite enjoying his time at Glanford Park, Garner was unable to prevent the club’s relegation back to League One at the end of the season.

His ability to find the back of the net at that level did, however, prick the ears of a number of suitors that summer and he signed for Watford on a two-year deal after being released by Forest.

After Watford and a spell on loan at Carlisle, the striker was snapped up by boyhood club North End in 2013.

It is fair to say Garner has found his spiritual home at Deepdale as his goals record would appear to prove.

He has struck 38 goals in 84 appearances in all competitions for the Lilywhites and has become a cult hero among the supporters.

Another member of Preston’s current squad to enjoy a loan spell at Scunthorpe is goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.

Loaned out by parent club Manchester United at the age of 18, Johnstone made his Football League debut for the Iron against Sheffield United at Glanford Park.

The Leyland lad remembers his debut against the Blades vividly.

Chris Dagnall had given the home side the lead on the stroke of half-time but Ched Evans equalised with 18 minutes to go.

“It was a nerve-racking moment for me making my debut,” Johnstone said.

“But once the adrenalin had kicked in, it was just a game of football.

“But that was my first loan spell – it’s quite a few years ago now. I’ve played against Scunthorpe quite a few time since.

PNE legend Graham Alexander began his football career with Scunthorpe.

The current Fleetwood Town manager made one game shy of 200 appearances for the Iron after progressing through the youth ranks at the club.

Other players to play for both clubs include Graeme Atkinson, Russ Wilcox, Eddie Nolan and Paul Hayes.