Memory match: Preston North End’s draw at Nottm Forest felt like a victory

Bare-chested Billy Jones celebrates his last-gasp equaliser at Forest
Bare-chested Billy Jones celebrates his last-gasp equaliser at Forest

“It felt like a win” – that was Phil Brown’s verdict on Preston’s dramatic 2-2 draw against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in February 2011.

Brown had only been appointed a few weeks earlier after the sacking of Darren Ferguson and ultimately failed to save PNE from relegation to League One.

But at the City Ground, North End snatched a 96th-minute equaliser through Billy Jones after Chris Cohen looked to have snatched victory for the promotion-chasing hosts four minutes earlier.

Barry Nicholson had given Brown’s men a first-half lead, with on-loan Liverpool left-back Paul Konchesky levelling for Forest early in the second half.

All the talk was of events in stoppage time though, the PNE boss full of praise for the battling qualities showed by his players.

Brown said: “It felt like a win, it felt like three points.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t, but we’ll take the draw.

“Our tactics in the first half were first class, we narrowed Forest down to minimum chances, and limited them to an uncharacteristic long ball game.

“However, it’s not about Nottingham Forest for me, it was about Preston North End.

“The spirit and commitment on show was excellent.

“When your right-back crosses in the 95th minute for your left-back to score, that shows you commitment.

“Not many sides in this division will show you that.

“We now need that kind of spirit and commitment for the next 14 games.

“How many times have Forest scored late on at the City Ground to win a game this season? A lot of
 times.

“How many times have the opposition gone down the other end in response and got an equaliser? Not many.

“That shows you what we have got.

“Our Holy Grail is to stay in the Championship, and with the commitment we showed in the dying embers of the game, and the organisation we showed throughout, we will possibly stay in the Championship this season.

“I thought we put a spanner in Forest’s works last night.

“There was a nice siege mentality from 600 Preston North End fans against almost 30,000 Nottingham Forest supporters.

“I would have liked to have gone over and shake the hands of every one of them, their support was absolutely fabulous.

“We need that on Saturday now when we have a right hotpot against Burnley.

“They will be bringing 5,500 over, so we need to fill Deepdale.”

Brown claimed North End should have been awarded two penalties, one for handball and the other for a foul on Nicholson.

Even Forest boss Billy Davies agreed that one of them should have been awarded.

Said Brown: “I would like to see one or two officials giving decisions to an away team showing as much commitment as we did.

“There were two blatant penalties, how the assistant referee didn’t see the handball I’ll never know. It was hand to ball.

“The other was a foul on Barry Nicholson, he is one of the most honest players you will ever come across and Konchesky has clearly pushed him in the back.

“Saying that, it was a very enjoyable encounter against a very feisty Forest side. Now last night’s game is out of the way, I wish them all the best.”