Looking back: Preston 1 Swindon 1 - Bobby Charlton's first home game in charge of PNE and a debut for Nobby Stiles in September 1973
Preston North End got their first point on the board of Bobby Charlton’s reign as manager when they played host to Swindon Town at Deepdale in September 1973.
Alex Bruce gave PNE a dream start in front of a 12,034 crowd, finding the net after just 45 seconds.
But the visitors equalised late on through Ray Treacy, a player North End would sign three months later.
This was Charlton’s first home game as manager, the former Manchester United and England ace having been appointed over the summer.
He succeeded Frank Lord, who had been on caretaker duties since the sacking of Alan Ball in February 1973.
Charlton wasn’t the only newcomer, this game seeing a Lilywhites debut for Nobby Stiles after signing from Middlesbrough in a player/coach role.
There was also a home debut for Francis Burns, a former team-mate of Charlton and Stiles at United. The midfielder had been signed from Southampton.
North End’s first two games of the campiagn had fallen away – at Aston Villa on the opening day and then at Bolton in the League Cup.
They’d lost 2-0 at Villa and drawn 1-1 with Bolton.
While all eyes were on the new boys, it was a landmark day for PNE legend Alan Kelly between the posts.
This was Kelly’s 444th game for North End, a club record.
Charlton, watching from the dug out, couldn’t have asked for a better start.
Tony Morley’s pass found Alan Spavin, who put over a cross to the near post.
Bruce dashed to meet it and slid the ball into the net to the delight of the crowd.
Mel Holden had a shot saved in the 10th minute, with Spavin also testing the keeper.
North End’s midfield of Stiles, Spavin and Burns impressed, with Morley creative and dangerous in a wider role.
Swindon had the ball in the net after half an hour when Treacy shot past Kelly from just inside the box, but the flag went up against the Swindon man for offside.
Stiles forced a good save out of Swindon keeper Jimmy Allan with a volley, while Allan was equal to a Spavin free-kick – diving across goal to save.
In the run-up to the interval, Bruce hooked a shot over the bar and Burns wasn’t far away with a long range effort.
In the second half, the Lilywhites still looked the stronger side as they looked to add to their lead.
Allan saved from John McMahon, while Holden headed over the bar.
Swindon began to get more into the contest, with Stiles having to clear a header from Treacy off the line.
Substitute Neil Young, on for Holden, fluffed a chance to make it 2-0 after failing to connect properly with a Morley cross.
Swindon’s equaliser came in the 88th minute, Treacy meeting a cross from Tom Jenkins to head home and deny Preston victory.
North End: Kelly, McMahon, Hawkins, S Baxter, McNab, Stiles, Burns, Spavin, Morley, Holden (Young 78), Bruce.
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