Memory match: PNE v Hull City

Simon Whaley (centre) is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring for Preston in a 3-0 win over Hull City in December 2007
Simon Whaley (centre) is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring for Preston in a 3-0 win over Hull City in December 2007

Preston’s win over Hull City in December 2007 was of great significance to newly-arrived manager Alan Irvine.

It was the Scotsman’s first victory as PNE boss on the back of three defeats.

Patrick Agyemang, Simon Whaley and Lewis Neal found the net in the last half-hour to see off the Tigers – managed at the time by Phil Brown.

Irvine had arrived in the Deepdale hotseat three weeks earlier, succeeding the sacked Paul Simpson.

A 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at the KC Stadium had spelt the end of Simpson after 18 months in charge.

Irvine had seen Preston beaten by Charlton, Crystal Palace and Wolves as he took his first steps into the world of management.

The Scot had arrived from Everton where he had been No.2 to former Preston boss David Moyes.

A six-game winless run had dropped North End into the bottom three and they were still there after beating Hull.

But it was a step in the right direction, with Irvine saying: “I’m delighted with the win.

“It’s been tough for the players, fans and staff and the board of course.

“The feeling I get from the players is that this is the start rather than anything else.

“That’s good because we can’t rest on that and we still have a lot to do.”

Hull were the better side in the first half and at times North End had to ride their luck.

The visitors struck the woodwork when Caleb Folan got the better of Youl Mawene, his shot hitting the post.

But Preston got on the front foot after the break and were rewarded by scoring three goals without reply.

The deadlock was broken after an hour, the goal set up by Paul Gallagher, who was in his first loan spell with the club at the time.

He slid a pass through the visitors’ defence, sending Agyemang through on goal.

The striker did the rest, tucking a shot past keeper Boaz Myhill.

Eight minutes later, PNE went in front to the delight of the majority of the 11,311 crowd.

Whaley struck from eight yards, his shot getting a touch off a Hull defender and going past Myhill.

Substitute Neal wrapped up the win in the 89th minute, scoring within moments of coming off the bench.

Neal struck from close range, an easy finish for the winger.

Hull boss Brown, who would go on to manage PNE in 2011, said: “I thought in the first half we were different class.

“I thought that we should have gone in front.

“Everything was going 
according to plan but the second-half performance was totally unacceptable. No excuses.

“The first goal was always going to be important for both sides in terms of their confidence.

“If we’d got our noses in front, we’re a good side and we go on to win the majority of the games when we do that.

“It was important for Preston to get the first goal as well for their confidence which we identified was fragile before the game.

“Consequently, they got it and went on to comprehensively beat us.”

North End lost their next game to arch rivals Blackpool but bounced back to record wins against Burnley and Southampton.

Over Christmas and New Year they slipped to the foot of the table, before a revival in the second half of the season saw them beat the drop with a bit of room to spare.