Preston North End’s clash with Millwall at Deepdale in April 1985 was very much a survival battle.
Preston’s clash with Millwall at Deepdale in April 1985 was very much a survival battle.
The Lilywhites, under the management of Tommy Booth, were fighting to avoid the drop from Division Three.
A meeting with Millwall looked a tough one, the Lions going well at the right end of the table.
And it looked to be an even more demanding one when the South London raced into a first-minute lead.
Somehow, PNE threw the proverbial form book out of the window and managed to turn the game in their favour to collect the three points.
Booth hadn’t long since landed the North End job on a full-time basis having done it as a caretaker since Alan Kelly’s departure.
He brought in Brian Kidd as his No.2 once the post was confirmed permanently, Kidd having returned from a spell coaching in the United States.
A swirling wind, rain and a cut-up Deepdale pitch made for testing conditions.
It looked like being a long old afternoon when Millwall surged in front.
Anton Otulakowski went past Mike Farrelly with less than 60 seconds played, the Preston midfielder bringing him down just inside the box.
The referee pointed to the spot and Steve Lovell sent keeper Glenn Campbell the wrong way with the penalty.
To their credit, North End refused to allow going behind to knock the stuffing out of them.
Bob Atkins and John Kelly went close with shots from outside the box, before PNE levelled in the 19th minute.
Kelly’s low ball into the box rolled beyond two Millwall defenders and into the path of Graham Houston.
The winger showed a calm head, slotting a low finish past keeper Paul Sansome.
Peter Houghton wasn’t far away from giving North End the lead just before half-time.
He found room in the box but his shot was tipped over by Sansome.
Millwall reacted to some strong words from George Graham during the interval and came out of the traps quickly in the second half.
For a spell, PNE were on the back foot but Atkins and Simon Gibson at the heart of the defence stood firm.
The hosts drew plenty of confidence from that strong rearguard effort and began to offer a threat going forward.
An almighty scramble goalmouth should have led to North End going in front with 69 minutes on the clock.
It call came from a corner, Gibson had a shot blocked, with Houghton hitting the post with the rebound.
Another Houghton shot was parried by Sansome and somehow from three yards Geoff Twentyman scooped a shot up against the bar.
That miss looked set to haunt Twentyman who was playing as an emergency striker rather than in his usual centre-half role.
His blushes were spared though, in the 78th minute when North End scored the winner.
Twentyman was fouled outside the box, earning a free-kick.
Kelly tapped the free-kick sideways to Gary Brazil, the on-loan Sheffield United man hitting a low drive which clipped off the edge of the wall and into the net.
Brazil almost scored again when a pass from Twentyman played him in but Sansome pushed the shot away.
Unfortunately this win was followed by six games without victory, a sorry run which was to relegate Preston to the bottom tier for the first time in their history.
They did win 1-0 on the last day at York but it was too late to save them.