Memory match: PNE v Bolton, December 1988

Preston striker Tony Ellis sends a diving header into the Bolton net on Boxing Day, 1988
Preston striker Tony Ellis sends a diving header into the Bolton net on Boxing Day, 1988

Preston were wide awake for a Boxing Day morning start against Bolton Wanderers at Deepdale in 1988.

The 11.30am kick-off on police advice was the norm for derby games of that era and a good-sized crowd of 12,104 was there to see North End win 3-1.

Adrian Hughes set them on the way to victory with his first goal in PNE colours, a week after his 18th birthday.

It was a lead doubled by Tony Ellis, only for Bolton to give themselves a lifeline by pulling a goal back.

However, Warren Joyce restored Preston’s two-goal cushion and spared the home fans a nervous finish.

This was a much-needed win for John McGrath’s men who had hit a bump in the road since beating Mansfield seven weeks earlier.

They were without a league victory in five games and had exited the FA Cup to Tranmere.

One of the league defeats had been by a 6-0 scoreline at Wolves.

Bolton handed a debut to former Preston striker Nigel Jemson, having signed him on loan from Nottingham Forest.

This contest started at 100mph with chances and penalty appeals at both ends.

Preston right-back Neil Williams appeared to foul Julian Darby but the visitors’ appeals fell on deaf ears.

It was a similar story at the other end when played was waved on after a trip on Mark Patterson by Bolton’s Gary Henshaw.

Gary Brazil forced a fine save from David Felgate, with Roy Tunks somehow saving a Darby header.

North End took the lead in the 25th minute.

Brazil’s corner found Alex Jones, the central defender sending a header against the underside of the bar.

Ellis was the first to react to the rebound, turning the ball across the six-yard box for Hughes to side-foot home.

Preston had a lucky escape when a long-range shot from Steve Thompson hit Tunks and looped up against the bar.

Fresh from surviving that scare, the hosts doubled their lead in the 44th minute.

It resulted from another Brazil corner, one which was flicked on by Jones and met with a diving header by Ellis.

Bolton cut the arrears in the 52nd minute.

Having had a hand in PNE’s opening two goals, Jones was at fault in his own box.

The centre-half sliced an attempted clearance straight to Robbie Savage who rifled a shot past Tunks from just 
inside the area.

That led to a nervous patch of play for Preston as Bolton went looking for an equaliser. Tunks had to save well from Darby, while Savage put a header wide from six yards when it was easier to score.

PNE were to wrap up the festive three points with a third goal eight minutes from time.

Patterson and Brian Mooney linked up superbly on the break, Mooney’s pass sending Joyce clear.

The midfielder chipped a shot over keeper Felgate as he raced off his line, and it went into the net despite the 
efforts of Phil Brown to clear.

It was a sweet moment for Joyce, with Bolton being his former club.

Afterwards, North End boss McGrath said: “It was a good win, we played some smashing stuff at times.

“We made a mistake for their goal which concerned me, when that one went in I thought, ‘Here we go again’.

“But we recovered and went on to win it.”

Preston followed up this win with a 2-0 victory over Sheffield United, Joyce and Patterson on target against the Blades.