Preston North End memory match: Look back to when Tom Clarke was the late hero against Cardiff City in December 2017

Tom Clarke was Preston North End’s last-gasp hero in their winner over Cardiff City in December 2017.

By Dave Seddon
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 3:00 pm

The Lilywhites skipper headed home in the 90th minute to settle this Friday night clash in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the Cardiff City Stadium.

It was a deserved win in the South Wales cold, Clarke’s late intervention warming-up the few hundred PNE fans who made the trip between Christmas and New Year.

North End put in a battling display, more than holding their own against Neil Warnock's Bluebirds who went into the game third in the table.

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Tom Clarke heads Preston North End's winner at Cardiff City in December 2017

They earned the right to play, winning their physical battles and imposing themselves on the contest.

It looked like a draw would have to suffice until Clarke popped up with his second goal in three weeks to deliver the three points and stretch the unbeaten run to nine matches.

This was also PNE's first win at the Cardiff City Stadium and the first on Bluebirds territory since November 2004.

The game took a while to spring into any semblance of life, the opening 20 minutes very much a case of the teams sizing one another up.

Tom Clarke is mobbed by his Preston North End team-mates at Cardiff City

Ben Pearson changed that by bursting up field out of midfield, his run carrying him to within a few yards of the Cardiff box where his progress was halted by a Lee Peltier foul, that earning the Bluebirds left-back a yellow card.

Paul Gallagher took the resulting free-kick and saw it hit the wall, Daryl Horgan's follow-up effort charged down by a defender with the ball eventually kicked clear.

Alan Browne pulled a low shot from 25 yards wide of the target, the midfielder booked soon after that for tugging Lee Tomlin's shirt as he moved towards the North End box.

Six minutes into the second half Chris Maxwell was called into action for the first time, the North End goalkeeper diving to his right to hold a header from Tomlin who had connected with Jamie Paterson's right-wing cross.

Preston North End's Jordan Hugill and Cardiff City's Bruno Ecuele Manga battle for the ball

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Horgan made space for himself in a central position with a smart turn in the 58th minute but he lifted a shot over the bar from 25 yards with his weaker left foot.

There was a double substitution for North End with 68 minutes played, Josh Harrop and Callum Robinson replacing Gallagher and Horgan.

Robinson set up a half-chance for Jordan Hugill, his cross from the left finding the striker who got across his man but could only head wide.

Cardiff City's Lee Tomlin under pressure from Preston North End's Paul Huntington

PNE almost made the breakthrough in the 76th minute as Tom Barkhuizen got away down the right channel and cut into the box.

His low ball into the goalmouth was palmed out by keeper Neil Etheridge and looked to be rolling into Hugill's path before Manga got in a fine last-ditch block to clear for a corner.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 90th minute as North End won a corner on the left which Harrop delivered into a packed goalmouth.

Paul Huntington climbed to meet it and powered a header towards goal, Etheridge parried and Clarke was on the spot to head the rebound into the net from close range.

PNE saw out six minutes of added-on time, Maxwell making a good save in the 95th minute to push behind a shot from substitute Rhys Healey.