Preston North End retro game - Wimbledon's first visit to Deepdale in 1982

Preston North End made harder work of beating Wimbledon at Deepdale in April 1982 than they should have done.

Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 10:20 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 11:28 am
Wimbledon goalkeeper Dave Beasant saves at the feet of Preston striker Steve Elliott

They led 2-0 and 3-1 in the game, but had to hang on a bit towards the end to secure a valuable victory.

It took them another step closer to avoiding the drop, this win coming in a strong run of form which saw them ultimately finish well clear of the bottom four.

This was Wimbledon’s first visit to Deepdale, the game pitching one of the newer Football League teams with a founder member.

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Preston midfielder John Kelly in action against Wimbledon at Deepdale in April 1982

The clubs had met for the first ever time four months earlier, when PNE had been beaten 3-2 at Plough Lane.

Tommy Docherty had been in charge then but the time the home fixture came around, he was long gone and Gordon Lee had replaced him at the helm.

North End had gone into the game on the back of a 1-0 win at Chester in which Steve Elliott had scored the winner and Lee stuck with an unchanged side.

Alex Bruce scored in the 11th minute to set them on the way to victory.

PNE defender Tommy Booth looks to clear his lines against Wimbledon

The Scottish striker met a cross from Willie Naughton to turn the ball into the net past keeper Dave Beasant.

It was an advantage which Preston doubled early in the second half.

Gary Buckley delivered a corner into the box, Tommy Booth flicked it on and Don O’Riordan headed home.

However, Wimbledon soon cut the deficit as a shot from the side of the box from John Leslie caught out PNE’s loan keeper Martin Hodge and sailed into the net.

The hosts were to briefly restore a two-goal cushion.

It was Bruce on target a second time to make it 3-1.

Buckley’s cross from the right found Elliott in the box, his shot hitting the bar.

The ball bounced into the path of Bruce who fired into the net.

Again, the Lilywhites left the back door ajar to give the visitors a glimmer of hope.

They pulled it back to 3-2 when Peter Brown headed past Hodge.

North End managed to hold on to their lead and twice forced Beasant into saves as they looked to make things more comfortable.

That said, it needed some strong defending to hold Wimbledon at bay late on.

Lee said: “When we were 2-0 up, it looked like we would go on and win by four or five goals.

“We put ourselves under pressure and that was self inflicted.

“However, we got there in the end and won the game.

“I’m waiting for the time when the pressure and the tension is gone and the lads can express themselves.

“We are a good side, but at the moment we are having to battle against relegation.”

North End were to finish 14th in the Third Division, eight points clear of danger.

PNE: Hodge, Anderson, Booth, O’Riordan, McAteer, Naughton, Kelly, Doyle, Buckley, Elliott, Bruce. Sub (not used): Houston.