Memory Match: When Preston North End were reunited with Billy Davies at Derby County in 2006

Preston's players celebrate Danny Pugh's equaliser against Derby at Pride Park in September 2006
Preston's players celebrate Danny Pugh's equaliser against Derby at Pride Park in September 2006

Preston North End’s visit to Pride Park to take on Derby County in September 2006 certainly had an edge to it.

The clash reunited the Lilywhites with Billy Davies, the manager who had departed Deepdale three months earlier to take the Derby job.

Billy Davies and Paul Simpson on the touchline at Pride Park

Billy Davies and Paul Simpson on the touchline at Pride Park

Davies had been followed to the Rams by six members of his backroom staff, it being the nature of their exit which had left a bad taste.

PNE chairman of the time Derek Shaw refused to sit with the Derby directors, choosing instead to watch the 1-1 draw from the press box.

Down on the touchline, Davies took plenty of stick from many of the 1,600 North End fans in the away end.

Briefly, the Scotsman’s new charges were ahead in the Championship contest through Steven Howard’s 44th minute goal.

Danny Pugh celebrates his equaliser for Preston at Derby with skipper Graham Alexander

Danny Pugh celebrates his equaliser for Preston at Derby with skipper Graham Alexander

But by half-time Danny Pugh had pulled Preston level and that proved sufficient for them to take a point back to Lancashire.

Paul Simpson had been the man brought in to replace Davies, recruited from Carlisle.

Their pair stood a few yards away from one another on the touchline and it was Simpson who left the ground the happier of the pair.

Preston’s matchday squad contained 10 players signed by Davies, with him shaking all of them by the hand in the pre-match warm-up.

This wasn’t the best game of football in the world, the focus more on Davies than what happened on the pitch.

North End had headed there following back-to-back home wins over Cardiff and West Bromwich Albion.

David Nugent, back in the squad after suspension, had to make do with a place on the bench.

Patrick Agyemang and Danny Dichio were preferred up front, the former after scoring a superb overhead kick against Albion.

Nugent was to get off the bench before half-time though, when Dichio suffered a deadleg.

The best of the action was squeezed into a short spell in the run-up to half-time.

Derby nosed in front when Arsenal loanee Arturo Lupoli was brought down in the box by Sean St Ledger, referee Graham Laws pointing to the penalty spot.

Howard stepped up to send Preston keeper Carlo Nash the wrong way with the penalty.

Davies punched the air with delight on the touchline but his joy was relatively shortlived.

North End equalised in first-half stoppage time. Chris Sedgwick sent a cross into the box which was cleared by the Derby defence.

The ball fell to Pugh two yards outside the box who made himself a bit of room before curling a right-foot finish past Rams goalkeeper Stephen Bywater into the far corner of the net.

North End had plenty of defending to do in the second half but held out.

There were a couple of scares along the way, Nash saving well with his legs from Lupoli in the 50th minute.

Six minutes from time, a header from Howard came back off the bar and bounced down in the PNE goalmouth before being hoofed clear.

At the final whistle, Davies and Simpson shook hands, with Preston boss Simpson saying he had no axe to grind with his predecessor.

His beef was more with the backroom staff who had chosen to follow Davies a few weeks later.

Said Simpson: “I haven’t got a problem with Billy Davies – it wasn’t him who walked out after two days of pre-season training.”