Preston North End retro game - PNE pegged back by Luton Town at Deepdale in 1979

Preston North End’s draw with Luton Town in April 1979 was their final home game of a satisfying first season back in the Second Division.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 9:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 10:53 am
Preston's Gordon Coleman puts over a cross against Luton at Deepdale
Preston's Gordon Coleman puts over a cross against Luton at Deepdale

For a while it looked like they close the curtain on their Deepdale campaign with a victory, having led 2-0 through goals from Steve Doyle and Gordon Coleman.

However, the Hatters turned things round to earn a draw and give their hopes of avoiding relegation a boost.

While this was PNE’s last home match, bizarrely their season ran for another three-and-a-half weeks.

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Preston on the attack against Luton

The following week they won 1-0 at Bristol Rovers and then had to wait until May 22 to play their final game away to Millwall – they won that 2-0 at The Den.

A harsh winter which had wiped out many fixtures in January and February, was the reason for the late finish.

North End went into this game on the back of a 2-0 loss in midweek at Cambridge.

Nobby Stiles stuck with the same side and watched them take a first-half lead in front of a crowd of 8,927.

Preston midfielder Gordon Coleman (No.7) challenges with the Luton left-back at Deepdale

It was done in some style, Doyle firing home with a 20-yard shot after a cross from Danny Cameron had been headed out of the box by a Luton defender.

Doyle hadn’t been on the scoresheet since the fourth game of the season – a 4-1 win over Blackburn.

So it was a long overdue goal for the young Welsh midfielder.

The Lilywhites doubled their lead in the 55th minute.

Preston striker Mick Robinson challenges a Luton player

Alex Bruce created it, his run from the right channel taking him past three Luton challenges.

The striker then found Coleman in the box with a low ball, midfielder Coleman firing into the net from close range for his seventh goal of the season.

If North End thought they were home and hosed at that stage, they were mistaken.

Back came David Pleat’s side to score twice and snatch a share of the spoils.

PNE striker Alex Bruce lets fly with a shot against Luton

They halved the deficit when Dave Moss sent over a cross from the left.

North End midfielder Sean Haslegrave went to challenge Ricky Hill in the air, the ball coming off the PNE man and looping over goalkeeper Roy Tunks.

Buoyed by that goal, the Hatters pushed forward and got an equaliser as the clock ticked down.

Moss saw Tunks off his line and lobbed the keeper for the leveller.

Reflecting on the game, PNE boss Stiles said: “It was disappointing not to win.

“Credit to Luton, they pushed five into midfield and left only three the back after we had gone 2-0 up.

Gordon Coleman watches on as the Luton defence try and clear their lines against Preston

“We wanted to win the game but couldn’t see it out.

“For parts of the game we played well but we wanted to win at home.”

This draw saw PNE in 10th place, however the two away wins they got in the weeks ahead saw them finish in seventh place.

In the days of two points for a win, that lofty finish saw them eight points better off than Sheffield United who filled the final relegation slot.

Preston: Tunks, Taylor, Uzelac, O’Riordan, Cameron, Coleman, Doyle, Haslegrave, Bell, Robinson, Bruce. Sub (not used): Potts.