PNE retro: Preston North End face old boy Howard Kendall at Stoke City in February 1979

Preston North End’s visit to Stoke City in February 1979 came at the end of a harsh winter, and saw them in opposition to their former player Howard Kendall.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 12:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 12:18 pm
Preston goalkeeper Roy Tunks takes a catch against Stoke, watched by team-mates Mick Baxter, Danny Cameron and Don O'Riordan

Snow had blanketed Britain for much of January and February 1979, this visit to the Victoria Ground only the third league game PNE had played since the end of December.

They had managed two FA Cup games in that spell though, beating Derby 3-0 and then losing to Southampton 1-0 – both opponents coming from the top flight.

The trip to the Potteries followed a goalless draw at Crystal Palace four days before.

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Preston defender Don O'Riordan slides into a challenge against Stoke City at the Victoria Ground in February 1979

Stoke’s player/coach at the time was Kendall, a player who had served PNE with distinction in the 1960s before he was sold to Everton.

He was the youngest player to play in a Wembley FA Cup final when North End were beaten by West Ham in 1964.

When Stoke had made the trip to Deepdale for the reverse fixture earlier in the 1978/79 campaign, Kendall had scored Stoke’s winner.

Ahead of the visit to Stoke, North End had lost only once in 12 games in the league. Add in the fact they had beaten First Division Derby in the cup and it was a superb recovery after going 11 games without a win earlier in the campaign.

Preston defender Don O'Riordan clears his lines against Stoke as Sean Haslegrave (left) and Danny Cameron (No.3) provide cover

Their form hadn’t gone unnoticed by Kendall in the build-up.

Kendall said: “As a former Preston player I’m glad to see them playing so well and I can understand why they have been on a good run.”

For Stoke, this was their first home game since December 30.

North End boss Nobby Stiles made just one change to his side, Steve Doyle replacing the injured Francis Burns in midfield.

PNE keeper Roy Tunks punches clear against Stoke

On the bench there was a recall for striker John Smith.

Early on, PNE keeper Roy Tunks made a save from Sammy Irvine, while Mick Robinson and Doyle had chances for the visitors.

North End took the lead in the 25th minute. Brian Taylor’s throw-in from the right was headed on by Robinson and Alex Bruce hooked a shot over the Stoke keeper into the net.

Garth Crooks went close to an equaliser for the home side, while Robinson put a shot wide when he had to chance to double Preston’s advantage.

Stoke pulled level in the 65th minute, Brendan O’Callaghan finding the net from a Paul Richardson corner.

There were chances for both sides after that on a muddy pitch.

Tunks tipped a shot from Richardson over the bar, while at the other end Eric Potts got behind the Stoke defence, but goalkeeper Roger Jones dived at his feet to save.

PNE finished the season in seventh place – a good achievement in their first campaign back in the second tier – with Stoke promoted in third spot behind Crystal Palace and Brighton.

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

Attendance: 18,177