Preston North End retro: When defeat at Grimsby Town in 1997 left Gary Peters' job in jeopardy

Preston North End’s defeat to Grimsby Town during Christmas 1997 was a significant step towards a change of management.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 5:00 pm
Preston's Dominic Ludden, David Eyres and Sean Gregan during the defeat at Grimsby
Preston's Dominic Ludden, David Eyres and Sean Gregan during the defeat at Grimsby

The Lilywhites shipped three goals in the first 34 minutes at Blundell Park and never recovered.

An 89th minute goal from PNE skipper Sean Gregan was scant consolation and the travelling fans turned on manager Gary Peters.

He was to survive just two more games in the job before David Moyes stepped-up from being Peters’ No.2 to become boss.

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PNE winger David Eyres tries to find a way through at Grimsby

Moyes was in Preston’s defence for this collapse before being substituted at half-time.

During the first-half, Moyes and Peters were seen to have words and the pair appeared to clash at the start of the second half in the dug out.

PNE had headed to the east coast on the back of a Boxing Day draw with Oldham and a defeat to Blackpool five days before Christmas.

Results all season had been mixed and Peters was struggling to get any sort of consistency from his side.

Preston goalkeeper Teuvo Moilanen after conceding three first-half goals at Grimsby

He used a 3-4-3 system to take on Grimsby but for most of the first half it looked more of a 3-6-1 with Michael Holt the lone striker.

Lee Cartwright and David Eyres were meant to provide support for Holt but rarely got sufficiently forward.

The game was beyond PNE by half-time, with poor goalkeeping and defending their downfall.

Grimsby took the lead in the 10th minute, former Blackburn striker Steve Livingstone sliding a pass through the PNE defence for Kevin Donovan to chase.

Michael Holt battles as Preston's lone striker against Grimsby

Donovan looked a shade offside but keeper Teuvo Moilanen and left-back Dean Barrick were both guilty of hesitation, leaving the Grimsby midfielder to slot the ball home.

The second Grimsby goal came in the 19th minute, a shot from Kinglsey Black blocked by PNE defender Colin Murdock.

It rebounded back into the path of Black who curled a shot into the top corner.

Peters pointed the finger of blame at keeping errors for all three goals but it was hard to see how Moilanen was at fault for this one.

North End skipper Sean Gregan is booked by the referee at Grimsby

Grimbsy made it 3-0 in the 34th minute, Donovan’s shot beating Moilanen with the help of a deflection.

A reshuffle at half-time saw Moyes and Julian Darby replaced by Gary Parkinson and Mark Rankine.

North End switched to 4-4-2, with Gregan pushed forward to help Holt.

Parkinson tested home keeper Aidan Davison with a 30-yard shot and Cartwright headed a Barrick cross wide.

Peters’ decision to take off Holt and replace him with Tony Lormor saw booing in the away end. A shot from Gregan in the 83rd minute hit the post, before he got on the scoreline a minute from time.

Gregan won a free-kick, one which Eyres rolled into his path. The skipper let fly with a powerful shot which clipped the wall and flew into the net.

PNE: Moilanen, Jackson, Moyes (Parkinson 46), Murdock, Darby (Rankine 46), Gregan, Appleton, Barrick, Cartwright, Eyres, Holt (Lormor 72).