Paul Huntington was Preston North End's comeback kid in victory at Gillingham in 2014

Paul Huntington bowed out of Preston North End at the weekend after 306 appearances in 10 years of service.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 3:00 pm

The Cumbrian Cannavaro took with him many good memories from his decade at PNE, a significant one being the Lilywhites’ midweek trip to Gillingham in October 2014.

Huntington hadn’t had a sniff of action for quite a while prior to the clash at the Priestfield Stadium.

He hadn’t started a league game for nearly 10 months but got the call-up to face Gillingham when Tom Clarke went down with a virus.

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Paul Huntington celebrates scoring Preston North End's winner against Gillingham in October 2014

It’s fair to say the defender took his chance, scoring the game’s only goal on a wet and windy night in Kent.

Huntington stayed in the side from that night on, finishing as North End’s player of the year and with a play-off final winners’ medal around his neck.

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The PNE squad had been flown down to the South East to save a long journey on the motorway.

Callum Robinson heads against the bar in Preston North End's win at Gillingham

It hadn’t been the most comfortable of flights from Manchester to Southend, their turboprop plane having a battle against a strong wind.

There was much relief when the plane landed and the players duly went about their business on the pitch, recording a sixth win on the bounce.

Victory was a deserved one on the balance of play, bearing in mind North End hit the woodwork four times over the course of the 90 minutes.

Skipper-for-the-night Joe Garner was the first to be denied by the woodwork, an early header coming back off the bar.

Preston North End defender Paul Huntington is fouled by Gillingham's Cody McDonald

At the other end, PNE left-back David Buchanan was well placed to cleared off the line from John Egan’s header.

Gillingham hit the woodwork themselves when Brennan Dickenson’s curling shot caught in the wind and sailed against the bar.

In the second half, Huntington hit the bar with a header and Callum Robinson put a chance against the post, before PNE’s winner arrived in the 59th minute.

After a corner had been cleared, Chris Humphrey returned the ball into the box where Huntington climbed at the far post to head home.

Preston North End hit the woodwork against Gillingham

Gallagher hit the bar in the closing stages, in the end Huntington’s header sufficient to take three points.

PNE: Jones, Laird, Huntington, King, Buchanan, Humphrey (Reid 73), Kilkenny, Browne, Gallagher, Garner, Robinson (Davies 86). Subs (unused): Welsh, Brownhill, Holmes, Ryan, Stuckmann.