Memory match: Preston North End beat Bristol City in final-day flourish

Lee Ashcroft fires Preston in front with a fine shot against Bristol City at Deepdale in May 1998
Lee Ashcroft fires Preston in front with a fine shot against Bristol City at Deepdale in May 1998

Preston brought the curtain down on the 1997/98 season with a Deepdale victory over Bristol City on May 2, 1998.

The game’s three goals were squashed into the first 10 minutes, Lee Ashcroft and David Eyres finding the net for North End either side of a Sean McCarthy equaliser.

City had arrived already promoted from the Second Division and with their eyes on winning the title.

This 2-1 defeat, coupled with a victory for Watford at Fulham by the same score, saw the Hornets finish top of the pile.

Preston’s win meant they ended the campaign on a high, finishing in 15th place.

David Moyes had taken over as manager from Gary Peters in January, the side having started to slip towards the lower reaches.

After a shaky start, Moyes had steadied the ship and they lost only two of their last 13 matches – taking 23 points.

PNE wore a new kit for this game, the replicas of which had gone on sale at the club shop the night before.

In the days before names on shirts, the kit had ‘North End’ on the back above the number.

Moyes made one change to the side which had drawn 0-0 at Wrexham the week before.

Dean Barrick returned from suspension to play at left-back, this proving to be his last game in a PNE shirt before being released.

Always a popular figure in his time at Deepdale, Barrick could later do a lap of thanks to say goodbye to the North End supporters.

Just five minutes were on the clock when Preston went in front in some style.

It all started at the other end of the pitch when PNE keeper Tepi Moilanen got down low to make a save.

He quickly picked himself up and launched a huge kick downfield.

Jon Macken rose to flick it on, Ashcroft allowing it bounce once before hitting a looping shot from 25 yards over Robins keeper Stuart Naylor into the top corner.

It wasn’t quite a case of saving the best to last in terms of the quality of goal but this one was up there among the best of the season.

The visitors pulled level in the ninth minute, taking advantage of a howler in the North End defence.

Gary Owers launched a long ball forward in search of McCarthy.

Michael Jackson had tracked McCarthy’s run and was in position to guide the ball back to Moilanen.

However, the keeper chose to charge out of his box to try and head clear.

The big Finn missed the ball altogether and McCarthy was able to roll a shot into the unguarded net.

City celebrated lavishly but within 45 seconds of the restart, found themselves 2-1 down.

From the kick-off, North End worked the ball forward with Ashcroft feeding a pass out to Simon Davey on the right wing.

Davey crossed, Macken tried a scissor-kick which he sliced across goal to the far post, where Eyres hammered home from close range.

It had all the makings of a high-scoring clash but the scoreline was to stay at 2-1.

There were chances at both ends, Naylor saving with an outstretched leg to deny Eyres.

Ashcroft, Paul McKenna and Mark Rankine all went close.

At the other end, Gregory Goodridge and McCarthy put shots wide.

In the second half, Naylor spread himself to make a good save from Macken.

Eyres sliced a shot wide when he should have done better.