Memory match: PNE v Norwich City

Jon Macken blasts home for North End against Norwich at Deepdale in September 2001
Jon Macken blasts home for North End against Norwich at Deepdale in September 2001

There is nothing like getting things finished early and it was job done for Preston by half-time when they played Norwich City at Deepdale in September 2001.

They led 4-0 at the break against the Canaries and that is the way it stayed.

Graham Alexander, Jon Macken (2) and Rob Edwards found the net as North End took the visitors apart.

In terms of goals, it was the club’s best first-half show since August 1993 when they had put five past Shrewsbury before the interval.

This was a Wednesday night clash, Preston having played the previous Sunday at Birmingham and won 1-0.

North End picked up where they had left off in the West Midlands, opening the scoring in the first minute.

Mark Rankine’s run down the left-hand side of the box was halted by a challenge from Craig Fleming.

The midfielder went to ground and referee George Cain pointed to the spot.

Alexander dispatched the penalty past Rob Green into the bottom corner and PNE were up and running.

The lead was doubled by the time the game reached the quarter-hour mark.

David Healy’s tackle on Fleming saw the ball spin to Macken who rode a challenge from Darren Kenton before powering a shot into the top corner from 18 yards.

A couple of weeks before, striker Macken had handed in a transfer request.

It had led to some booing at the previous home game but it was all cheers now.

PNE piled the pressure on the visitors, Healy a whisker away with a chance.

They got their third goal in the 33rd minute, and it came from a corner on the left.

Alexander delivered the ball deep to the far side of the box where Healy chased it.

He chipped back into the middle for Edwards to send a header into the net.

If Norwich thought things could not get any worse before the interval, it did in time added on.

Alexander’s pass found Healy who turned and flicked the ball on for Macken to chase.

He met it and hammered a shot past Green off the inside of the post.

Bearing in mind Norwich had gone into the game eight unbeaten, to be 4-0 down at half-time was a huge shock.

Could the second half be as lively as the first?

The answer was no, with the visitors playing for pride and North End content with their advantage.

It was more even, Preston goalkeeper Teuvo Moilanen finally having something to do after being a spectator in the first period.

He made saves from Steen Nedergaard and substitute Alex Notman.

North End were not far away from scoring a fifth goal in stoppage time.

Richard Cresswell, on as a sub for Healy, saw a shot on the turn deflect off a Norwich defender and hit the post.

Victory was achieved without Sean Gregan who was serving a one-match ban.

Preston manager David Moyes said: “It was a great team performance with everyone playing their part magnificently.

“It is the way we like to play if we can.

“Norwich have been doing well and we mustn’t underestimate how difficult it was.

“But we went about our job in exactly the right manner.

“We got off to a brilliant start, although I thought the penalty looked like a body check on Ranks and maybe it should have been a free-kick for obstruction.

“But we haven’t had a great deal go for us this season a so maybe we were due this.”