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PNE retro game - the return of Mike Elwiss to Deepdale with Crystal Palace

PNE right-back John McMahon - with Mike Elwiss behind him - passes the ball against Crystal Palace in 1978
PNE right-back John McMahon - with Mike Elwiss behind him - passes the ball against Crystal Palace in 1978

The visit of Crystal Palace to Preston North End in October 1978 saw all eyes on Mike Elwiss.

It was the striker’s first return to Deepdale since a £200,000 move to Palace from the Lilywhites three months earlier.

Sean Haslegrave scores from an indirect free-kick against Crystal Palace in 1978

Sean Haslegrave scores from an indirect free-kick against Crystal Palace in 1978

He had been an integral part of PNE’s promotion from the Third Division the previous season, 12 of his 17 goals coming in the league.

But that summer the lure of joining Terry Venables’ Palace side had proved too much.

By the time the London outfit arrived in Lancashire on October 14, it looked a very good move.

Palace were unbeaten at the top of the table and PNE were rooted in the bottom three.

Ricky Thomson has a shot against Crystal Palace

Ricky Thomson has a shot against Crystal Palace

Elwiss condemned them to a fifth successive defeat, scoring the winner.

It was harsh on North End though, their performance deserving of better.

Post-match, Elwiss was to admit it had been Palace’s poorest display since he had joined them.

Palace were to go on and win the Second Division title and Preston recovered well from their autumn slump to finish in seventh place.

PNE winger Ricky Thomson takes on the Palace right-back

PNE winger Ricky Thomson takes on the Palace right-back

PNE boss Nobby Stiles gave a debut in defence to Don O’Riordan, clearance on his £35,000 move from Tulsa Roughnecks in the United States having come through.

Another new signing, Brian Taylor, was named on the bench.

Stiles saw his side take an early lead after they were awarded an indirect free-kick in the box.

It was given against John Burridge, the Palace keeper, for taking more than steps in the penalty box without bouncing the ball – a rule long since abolished.

Steve Doyle rolled the free-kick into the path of Sean Haslegrave who fired a low shot through a crowded box into the net.

It was Haslegrave’s first goal since signing for PNE 12 months earlier.

Mick Robinson and Doyle put chances wide as North End pressed for a second.

Palace drew level shortly after half-time, a cross from Kenny Samson slotted home by Ian Walsh.

North End quickly went back in front, Haslegrave turning supplier with a pass to Ricky Thomson who drove a shot past Burridge.

Thomson nearly scored again when he was played into space in the box only to delay his shot.

Palace equalised a second time with Walsh again the scorer.

He struck from close range after PNE right-back John McMahon headed the ball across his own box.

Soon after, Elwiss was to net Palace’s winner.

He intercepted a stray pass from Thomson to move towards the box and hit a shot over keeper Roy Tunks.

Elwiss was later to suffer a serious knee injury which eventually forced his early retirement.

He had a spell on loan back at PNE towards the end of the 1979/80 season, with him scoring three goals.

PNE: Tunks, McMahon, Baxter, O’Riordan, Cameron, Coleman, Haslegrave, Doyle, Thomson, Robinson, Bruce. Sub: Taylor.