Preston North End retro - a 4-0 win for Harry Catterick's men against Gillingham in April 1976

Preston North End kept up a strong run of home form in the second half of 1975/76 with victory over Gillingham.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 9:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 10:45 am
Preston's No.10 Mike Elwiss involved in a goalmouth scramble against Gillingham in April 1976

Harry Catterick’s men lost only one of their last 11 games at Deepdale that campaign, on in which they finished in eighth place in Division Three.

John McMahon’s opener in the first half against the Gills was added to by Alex Bruce (2) and John Smith in the second period.

The entertainment before the game in April 1976 had consisted of a women’s 1,500m race round the perimeter of the pitch, that was organised by Preston Harriers.

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Preston striker Mike Elwiss challenges with Gillingham goalkeeper Ron Hillyard for a cross

Once that had finished, parachutists landed in the centre circle as the Black Knights put on a display.

As for the football itself, North End took the lead in the 15th minute.

McMahon hit a low shot from the edge of the box which beat Gulls keeper Ron Hillyard at his near post.

In fairness to Hillyard, he was perhaps unsighted until the last moment with the ball passing close to North End midfielder Gordon Coleman.

PNE striker John Smith has an effort at goal against Gillingham in April 1976

That was only McMahon’s second goal of the season, the right-back’s other having come the home game before.

Early in the second half, Mark Lawrenson’s header from a Bruce corner was tipped over by Hillyard.

Steve Doyle saw a shot saved by the keeper, while David Sadler drove a free-kick from 30 yards too high.

North End’s second goal came in the 56th minute.

A PNE chance goes over the bar against Gillingham

A mistake from Graham Knight let in Mike Elwiss who took the ball to the edge of the Gillingham box where he squared it into the path of Bruce who rifled a shot into the roof of the net.

Further chances came and went for Bruce and Smith, while Elwiss went one-on-one with Hillyard but the Gills keeper saved.

Preston made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute from the penalty spot.

Bruce was brought down on the left and side of the box by Hillyard.

The Scotsman dusted himself down to take the penalty himself, finding the net in confident fashion.

There was no way back for Gillingham by now and North End put the final nail in their coffin in the 88th minute with a fourth goal.

Doyle’s pass found Smith who sent a low shot into the net past Hillyard.

For a season which had started in disarray with the resignation after four games of manager Bobby Charlton, it didn’t turn out too badly.

Charlton quit after a row with the Preston board over the swap deal which saw John Bird join Newcastle and Bruce return to PNE – there was a £50,000 fee paid by the Magpies too. Bruce went on to score 15 goals that campaign and his prowess in front of goal over the coming years would fire North End upwards.

Catterick was the man the Lilywhites turned to as the replacement for Charlton and he stayed in charge until the end of the 1976/77 season.

PNE: Tunks, McMahon (Spark), Sadler, Lawrenson, Williams, Brown, Coleman, Doyle Bruce, Elwiss, Smith.

Attendance: 6,349