PNE retro game - Warren Joyce is Preston's late hero against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup

Preston midfielder Warren Joyce's shot beats Tranmere goalkeeper Eric Nixon
Preston midfielder Warren Joyce's shot beats Tranmere goalkeeper Eric Nixon

A last-gasp goal from Warren Joyce saw Preston North End finally get the better of Tranmere in cup action.

The midfielder struck in the 88th minute of this FA Cup tie in November 1989 at Deepdale.

Preston winger Brian Mooney takes on a Tranmere defender in the FA Cup clash at Deepdale in November 1989

Preston winger Brian Mooney takes on a Tranmere defender in the FA Cup clash at Deepdale in November 1989

After PNE had been held at bay all game by a superb goalkeeping display from Eric Nixon, Joyce’s shot from the edge of the box found the back of the net.

It was no more than the Lilywhites deserved but it was harsh on Nixon who had almost single-handily kept North End at bay.

Earlier in the campaign, North End had lost both legs of their League Cup tie with Tranmere.

The season before, they had been beaten by Rovers in an FA Cup reply at Prenton Park after holding them to a draw at Deepdale.

PNE striker Tony Ellis moves towards the penalty box against Tranmere

PNE striker Tony Ellis moves towards the penalty box against Tranmere

So it was about time some luck came North End’s way against the Wirral outfit.

Mind you, victory set up a second-round tie which was to be rather humiliating for them.

The ‘reward’ was a trip to non-league outfit Whitley Bay, one which they lost 2-0 in front of the Match of the Day cameras.

That cup-shocker formed part of the slide in results which a couple of months later would cost Preston boss John McGrath his job.

Preston striker Graham Shaw watches as a Tranmere defender heads the ball clear

Preston striker Graham Shaw watches as a Tranmere defender heads the ball clear

The home side played well in this game, some of their approach play on Deepdale’s plastic pitch a joy to watch.

But at times North End overplayed, taking three or four passes when one would have done.

Chances came and went, Joyce denied by two superb Nixon saves in the first half.

Tranmere were limited to attacking on the break and should have gone in front when Johnny Morrisey shot wide when well placed.

In the second half, Nixon made saves from Joyce, Tony Ellis and Graham Shaw, while a free-kick from Mark Patterson whistled inches wide of the target.

Right-back Neil Williams got in on the shooting act, forcing another save from the overworked Nixon.

North End substitute Steve Harper saw an effort deflected wide as the home side upped the pressure.

Finally the breakthrough was made just as minds were turning to a midweek replay.

A corner caused all sorts of problems in the Tranmere defence, the ball eventually cleared as far as Joyce just outside the box.

The PNE skipper struck a low left-foot shot which flew past Nixon and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.

Not surprisingly the goal was celebrated with delight by the majority of the 7,521 crowd.

Joyce was to rate the goal as the best so far of his career when interviewed after.

“Left foot from outside the box on such a big day, yes, I would call that my best ever goal,” said Joyce.

PNE manager McGrath said: “Warren’s strike was a gem, just as it looked like we were destined for a replay.”

“Eric Nixon had done so well that it was always going to take something out of the ordinary to beat him.”


Preston: Kelly, Williams, Atkins, Hughes, Swann, Mooney, Joyce, Bogie, Patterson, Ellis, Shaw (Harper). Sub (unused): Bennett.