PNE retro: A comfortable lead turned into a five-goal disaster for Preston against Wimbledon at Deepdale in 2002

Preston North End collapsed in astonishing fashion in their Deepdale clash with Wimbledon in December 2002.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 3:00 pm

With 25 minutes left to play, the Lilywhites were 3-1 to the good. But they folded like a pack of cards and shipped four goals to hand the visitors the three points.

It was the second match in a row Craig Brown’s men had conceded five goals, having lost 5-0 at Aston Villa in the League Cup.

Little wonder the normal jovial Brown was furious afterwards, describing all five goals conceded as ‘diabolical’.

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Pawel Abbott during his first Preston North End start against Wimbledon in December 2002

Things started so well for North End, with them in front after just 10 minutes.

David Healy fed a pass out to Eddie Lewis on the left, his low cross challenged for in the box by Lilywhites striker Pawel Abbott and Dons defender Mikele Leigertwood.

Both players seemed to get something on the ball with it flying into the net past keeper Kelvin Davis.

Abbott, making his first PNE start, claimed it but it was officially credited as a Leigertwood own goal.

Graham Alexander scores from the penalty spot for PNE against Wimbledon

The young Polish front man had got his chance in the absence of Ricardo Fuller whose season had been ended the week before by a cruciate ligament injury and a suspension for Richard Cresswell.

North End keeper David Lucas made a fine double save from Jobi McAnuff but couldn’t prevent Wimbledon equalising five minutes before half-time.

David Connolly played a one-two with Neil Shipperly, raced past Chris Lucketti before firing low past Lucas.

Within 45 seconds PNE regained the lead, Paul McKenna’s shot from outside the box clipping off Leigertwood and finding the net via the inside of the post.

PNE midfielder Eric Skora goes up close to a Wimbledon player

They looked home and hosed in the 56th minute when their third goal hit the back of the net.

Abbott was tripped in the box by Peter Hawkins and Graham Alexander stuck the penalty away.

Wimbledon’s comeback began with 65 minutes on the clock, Dickson Etuhu’s foul on McAnuff seeing the visitors awarded a penalty.

Connolly sent Lucas the wrong way from the spot and suddenly Preston were looking uneasy.

PNE defender Rob Edwards watches as goalkeeper David Lucas is beaten from the penalty spot against Wimbledon at Deepdale

The visitors made it 3-3 in the 72nd minute as Eric Skora lost possession on the half-way line.

Quickly the ball was worked up to McAnuff who got away from Rob Edwards and finished with a low shot.

Deepdale went into meltdown eight minutes from time when Wimbledon went ahead.

McAnuff was the scorer again, beating Edwards as he cut in from the wing and curling a shot round Lucas into the far bottom corner.

Wimbledon’s fifth goal came in the 90th minute, Lucas spilling a cross.

The ball fell to Wayne Gray, he knocked it into the path of Nigel Reo-Coker who shot home.

PNE: Lucas, Alexander, Lucketti, Broomes, Edwards, Etuhu (Rankine 66), Skora, McKenna, Lewis, Abbott, Healy. Subs (not used): Mears, Cartwright, Murdock, Moilanen.

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