Memory Match: When a protest held up Preston North End's clash with Bristol Rovers in February 1990

Protests by disgruntled Preston North End supporters provided the main talking point from their Deepdale defeat to Bristol Rovers in February 1990.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 3:00 pm

A third loss on the bounce dropped them with within a point of the relegation zone, just a matter of months after they had competed in the play-offs.

The start of the second half was delayed for more than half an hour after 300 fans staged a sit-in in part of the Town End not covered by a safety certificate.

They had made their way on to the east section of the Town End from the Pavilion Paddock – through a gate which had to be left open after recommendations in the Taylor Report after Hillsborough.

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Disgruntled PNE supporters made their feelings known with placards during the 1990 defeat to Bristol Rovers

It took negotiations with the police and appeals from some of the players for the fans to move and allow play to resume.

North End gave debuts to goalkeeper Mike Stowell and midfielder Sammy McIlroy.

Stowell, who had started his career locally with Leyland Motors, came on loan from Everton.

Former Manchester United player McIlroy was recruited after a spell playing for Bury.

Preston's Nigel Greenwood and Warren Joyce both go up for a header in the home defeat to Bristol Rovers in February 1990

There was a second home debut for Nigel Greenwood too.

Greenwood been sold by PNE to Bury in June 1986, a deal which helped rebuild their squad after re-election.

He was brought back a couple of weeks before this game and had played in the previous game, a 3-1 defeat at Chester.

It was Greenwood who had North End’s best chance of the game in the 43rd minute.

Brian Mooney in action for PNE against Bristol Rovers at Deepdale

Some Brian Mooney magic played Greenwood clear on goal but hesitancy on the striker’s past saw Rovers goalkeeper Brian Parkin save at his feet.

The visitors’ winner came in the 60th minute.

Andy Reece delivered a corner from the right which Stowell and Devon White competed for in the air.

The ball dropped free and before any North End player could react, David Mehew spun and fired a shot into the net.

PNE striker Nigel Greenwood is denied by Bristol Rovers' keeper at Deepdale

As PNE looked for an equaliser, they found their former defender Geoff Twentyman and his centre-back partner Steve Yates in fine form.

Mooney and Neil Williams tested keeper Parkin from distance but they rarely looked like getting back on level terms.

It needed a fine save from Stowell to prevent Rovers midfielder Ian Hollway adding a second goal, the keeper diving full length to push the shot away.

After the game, some of the fans gathered outside the Pavilion Stand in Lowthorpe Road to continue their protests.

Those continued three days later when PNE were beaten 3-0 by Leyton Orient at home.

That game spelt the end for John McGrath as manager, with him sacked the following day.

Bristol Rovers score against Preston

PNE: Stowell, Williams, Flynn, Wrightson, Swann, Mooney, McIlroy, Joyce, Harper, Shaw, Greenwood. Subs (not used): Hughes, Bogie.