Preston North End retro: Winning send-off for Everton-bound David Moyes as PNE beat Rotherham in March 2002

Preston North End’s victory over Rotherham United in March 2002 proved to be David Moyes’ final game in charge of the Lilywhites.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 3:00 pm

Five days after PNE beat the Millers 2-1 at Deepdale, Moyes was lured away by Everton to start what would be an 11-year reign.

Richard Cresswell’s double ensured a winning finale to the Scotsman’s four years at the Deepdale helm, Cresswell finding the net either side of Alan Lee’s equaliser for the visitors.

The fact Cresswell started this game was down to another departure from North End earlier in the week, Jonathan Macken having been sold to Manchester City for a £5m fee.

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Richard Cresswell scores Preston North End's winner against Rotherham at Deepdale in March 2002

That season it had in the main been Macken and David Healy up front, with Cresswell playing more of a back-up role from the bench.

With Macken gone, he partnered Healy and marked his 50th PNE appearance with the two goals which delivered three precious points.

Victory kept his side on the coattails of the play-off pack, five points shy of the pace but still in touch.

Had it not been for Cresswell’s brace, the gap would have been stretched further.

Richard Cresswell dives in to score the first goal for Preston North End against Rotherham United at Deepdale in March 2002

Everton had not made their move for Moyes when this game was played – the ball was set rolling officially a couple of days later – so there was no sense around the ground that it would be a significant occasion.

Moyes’ resources were stretched, with skipper Sean Gregan and centre-half Colin Murdock out injured, as well as him no longer able to call on Macken’s services.

Rob Edwards was forced to play an emergency centre-half role, with youngster Adam Eaton coming into the side at left-back.

Cresswell and Healy had early chances, while Rotherham keeper Mike Pollitt made a good diving save from Edwards during a goalmouth scramble.

Richard Cresswell is congratulated on the first goal for Preston North End against Rotherham United at Deepdale

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Pollitt limped off in the 33rd minute after landing awkwardly on his ankle. Soon after that there was a let-off for North End when Lee’s header came back off the bar.

PNE took the lead in first-half stoppage-time, Edward’s corner misjudged by substitute keeper Ian Gray, allowing Cresswell to stoop and send a diving header into the net.

Thordar Gudjonsson had two chances to stretch the lead after half-time, while Cresswell saw a shot saved by Gray and then fired the rebound into the side-netting when Healy was shouting for a pass which would have given him a simple finish in the middle.

David Healy causes problems playing for Preston North End against Rotherham United at Deepdale

The visitors levelled after 66 minutes, John Mullin’s pass sending Lee clear who finished well past David Lucas.

Within four minutes Moyes’ boys had regained the lead, Dickson Etuhu the creator with a charge up the middle of the pitch.

As Etuhu reached the box, he laid a pass into the path of Cresswell who fired low past Gray.

Late on, Lucas saved well from Chris Swailes as North End defended their slender lead and ultimately held on to it.

PNE: Lucas, Alexander, Lucketti, Edwards, Eaton, Gudjonsson (Cartwright 70), McKenna, Etuhu, Anderson (Keane 58), Cresswell, Healy. Subs (not used): Basham, Reid, Moilanen.