PNE retro game - when goalkeeper Alan Kelly was a perfect 10

PNE striker Nigel Greenwood challenges the Torquay keeper
PNE striker Nigel Greenwood challenges the Torquay keeper

Preston North End goalkeeper Alan Kelly staged a one-man rearguard action in this Friday night clash with Torquay in December 1991.

Kelly was the only visiting player wearing a North End shirt due to a colour clash and he might as well have been the only PNE player on the pitch for the first hour.

Torquay on the attack against PNE in 1991

Torquay on the attack against PNE in 1991

As the defence played like strangers in front of him, Kelly produced seven superb saves – three of them in the space of a few seconds.

It earned Kelly a rare 10 out of 10 mark from the Evening Post’s PNE reporter of the time, Brian Ellis.

North End had to borrow Torquay’s purple away shirts in the Plainmoor clash.

They had turned up in Devon with both their white home shirts and yellow away tops – not knowing which one referee Clive Wilkes would allow them to wear as the hosts had a yellow and white striped shirt.

PNE striker John Thomas challenges in the air

PNE striker John Thomas challenges in the air

Mr Wilkes ruled that PNE couldn’t wear either , hence they ending-up in purple.

The Saturday before this long trip, North End had been beaten 4-1 at home by Hartlepool.

As a punishment for that poor show, Les Chapman played some of the first-team in a midweek reserve game.

That decision could be said to have backfired, with Preston awful for a large chunk of the game.

Lee Ashcroft goes close for Preston at Torquay

Lee Ashcroft goes close for Preston at Torquay

The one effort which beat Kelly all night came from the penalty spot.

In the 39th minute a pass from Justin Fashanu who was making his debut for Torquay, found winger Scott Colcombe.

Steve Senior fell flat on his backside as he went to tackle, leaving Colcombe with a free run into the box.

That was halted by Matt Lambert’s challenge, referee Wilkes pointing to the spot.

Matt Loram stepped up to score the penalty, even Kelly was helpless.

A few minutes before he had saved a header from Matt Elliott at close quarters.

Early in the second half, Kelly made a fine triple save to keep the hosts at bay.

He twisted in midair to change direction after a shot from Wayne Dobbins took a big deflection, then turned the follow-up from the same player behind for a corner.

The flag kick was met by Fashanu, Kelly tipping his bullet header over the bar.

He went on to save from Loram (twice) and Neil Sang as the home side kept their foot on the gas.

PNE only came to life for the last 20 minutes or so, Graham Shaw blasting a shot wildly over the bar from an Adrian Hughes lay-off.

That was their first effort since the opening exchanges when Nigel Greenwood had stung the gloves of Torquay keeper Gareth Howells.

In the 83rd minute a shot from Senior was deflected behind.

Then with moments left, Shaw met a John Thomas cross at the far post but Chris Curran blocked his shot.

Praising his keeper, PNE boss Chapman said: “Alan Kelly was magnificent, just magnificent.”

PNE: Kelly, Lambert (Allpress), Hughes, Flynn, Wrightson, Cartwright, Senior, Ashcroft, Shaw, Thomas, Greenwood. Sub (not used): Eaves.

Attendance: 2,183