Memory match: Preston North End victorious in the Potteries
Preston battled against Stoke and a gale-force wind to win their Boxing Day visit to the Britannia Stadium in 1998.
Michael Jackson’s goal in the seventh minute settled this clash in the Potteries and maintained a very impressive away record.
They had lost just once on the road so far that season, a run which had played a big part in keeping North End in the top four.
When the teams had met in the reverse fixture four months earlier at Deepdale, Stoke had won 4-3.
So there was an element of revenge about this Christmas cracker of a victory.
Coming up in the new year was an FA Cup clash against Arsenal but David Moyes was determined to keep Preston focused on the league.
With the wind behind them, the visitors established an early lead and didn’t let go.
It came from a corner, David Eyres sending over the flag-kick from the right which centre-half Jackson met to power a header into the net from six yards.
PNE, clad all in blue, went close to doubling their lead within two minutes.
Eyres’ low shot from the edge of the box was parried by keeper Karl Muggleton.
Lee Cartwright chased the loose ball and turned it back into the middle to find Jon Macken.
The striker’s shot was on target but was kicked off the line by Phil Robinson.
North End’s strong start saw them have the ball in the net a second time, only to see it ruled out. Again it was Jackson who headed home from a corner but the referee had spotted a push on keeper Muggleton by Colin Murdock.
Stoke began to make it more of a contest in the last 15 minutes of the first half.
Kevin Keen nudged a shot wide of David Lucas’ goal and Ben Petty was denied by a fine Eyres tackle in the box.
After the break, Stoke put more pressure on without achieving too much to start with.
Playing into the wind it was in fact Preston who had a couple of chances.
Cartwright’s cross hung in the wind and dropped down on to the top of the bar.
The winger then saw a shot saved by Muggleton.
Substitute Kurt Nogan got himself into decent positions three times but hesitated in shooting each time, with that allowing cover to get across.
Goalkeeper Lucas came into his own in the closing stages as the hosts pushed hard for an equaliser.
When a powerful low shot from Graham Kavanagh came through a crowd of legs in the box, Lucas got down to save it. The youngster then got both gloves to another shot from Kavanagh.
David Oldfield put two shots wide of the target and then Lucas turned another Kavanagh shot past the post.
Stoke sub Dean Crowe sliced an effort wide when it looked easier to scorer.
Lucas was at it again when he kept out Peter Thorne’s header.
But he saved his best to last in the 89th minute.
Thorne’s overhead kick looked destined for the far corner until at full-stretch, Lucas palmed it away.
For North End and their large travelling support, there were five minutes of stoppage ime to get through.
They managed to slow the play sufficiently to knock Stoke out of their stride and it was a huge sense of relief when the referee blew his whistle for full time.
The statistics showed nine shots on target for Stoke, the majority in the second half.
But with Lucas standing tall with his defenders, it was job done for PNE.