Memory match: Preston North End ended long wait for success at Reading with late DJ strike
Preston’s victory at Reading in April 2016 had been a long time in coming.
It was their first league win at the Madejski Stadium at the 10th time of asking.
Until then, their single success at the out-of-town ground had come in the FA Cup in 2004.
Not since 1982 when the Royals played at Elm Park had North End won in the league on Reading territory.
They made harder work of this one than perhaps they should have done.
After home goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi had single-handily kept them at bay in the first half, Jermaine Beckford found a way past him in the 56th minute.
But they left the back door open for Reading to equalise nine minutes from the end through Stephen Quinn.
North End were to leave with three points though, Daniel Johnson firing home in stoppage time.
This was their final away game of 2015/16 season and an eighth win on the road in their first campaign back in the Championship.
What the result did, along with a downpour, was empty the ground of home fans.
Reading’s lap of thanks for their last home game was done in front of a handful of their faithful, all the noise coming from the 778 Preston supporters in the away end.
Chance after chance came PNE’s way in the first half once they had put a slightly shaky start behind them.
Two of the best fell the way of Beckford, the first of those coming when Johnson got to the byline and pulled the ball back for him.
Beckford did not get the cleanest of connections but it still needed a sliding block from Paul McShane to take it behind.
Just before the half-hour, Paul Huntington’s clearance was misjudged by Reading centre-half Jake Cooper on the halfway line.
It left Beckford with a run on goal and probably a bit too much thinking time.
On reaching the edge of the box, he tried to dink a shot over Al Habsi, one which the keeper stretched up an arm to push away.
It was Reading who made the better start to the second half but Preston broke the deadlock in the 56th minute.
Alan Browne’s header was flicked over the top of the home defence by Johnson, sending Beckford clear in the box.
He made no mistake this time, lifting a shot over Al Habsi as the keeper came out, and off he went to celebrate with the PNE fans.
Reading equalised in the 86th minute, Yann Kermorgant’s lay-off fell to Quinn who drilled a first-time shot into the far bottom corner from 20 yards past a static Chris Kirkland.
Just after that, Kirkland saved well at his near post from Josh Barrett as the Royals threatened to win the game.
Thankfully, it was PNE who had the final say, the clock having just ticked into stoppage time when Adam Reach intercepted a stray clearance from Gareth McCleary.
He played the ball inside to Johnson who had time to take a touch before finding the far corner with a low shot from 12 yards.
The display impressed Preston boss Simon Grayson.
“It was as good as we have played going forward this season,” Grayson.
“We probably had as many clear-cut chances during the first half as we had done in many 90 minutes.
“If there was something to be disappointed about, it was that we had the chances to have finished the game off by half-time.”