Preston North End and Wolves contest a six-goal thriller at Deepdale in May 1989

The shackles were off Preston North End and Wolves as they served-up an action-packed clash at Deepdale on the final day of the 1988/89 season.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 13th May 2020, 3:00 pm
Mark Patterson celebrates scoring Preston North End's last-gasp equaliser against Wolves at Deepdale in May 1989
Mark Patterson celebrates scoring Preston North End's last-gasp equaliser against Wolves at Deepdale in May 1989

Six goals and chances for plenty more, made for an entertaining afternoon in front of PNE’s biggest league crowd for more than two years – 14,126.

North End went into the game on May 13, 1989, already assured of a play-off place, their first involvement in the Football League’s end-of-season knockout.

As for Wolves, they came up the M6 as Third Division champions and in a mood to celebrate.

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Tony Ellis volleys Preston in front against Wolves

The game was gripping from start to finish, with the Lilywhites taking a 1-0 lead.

Wolves overturned that and were 3-1 to the good going into the last couple of minutes of the action.

Tony Ellis pulled a goal back to give North End a glimmer of hope and then Mark Patterson struck right at the death to earn his side a share of the spoils.

It meant they went into the play-offs unbeaten in six games, having put a wobble in form behind them.

PNE on the attack against Wolves at Deepdale

When the sides had met earlier in the season at Molineux, North End had been thumped 6-0, on a day when Steve Bull scored four.

They kept Bull quieter on this occasion, it being his strike partner Andy Mutch who posed more of a threat.

There were early chances at both ends. Nigel Jemson headed just wide for the hosts, with Keith Downing’s shot at the other end hitting the inside of the post.

PNE took a 22nd minute lead, a pass from Brian Mooney finding right-back Neil Williams in space.

Young PNE fans in the West Stand at Deepdale before PNE's draw with Wolves in May 1989

Williams sent over a cross which Ellis caught superbly on the volley and fired past Wolves keeper Mark Kendall.

The visitors levelled five minutes later, Mutch tucking a shot past David Brown.

Patterson went close to restoring PNE’s lead, while it needed a goalline clearance from Jeff Wrightson to deny Mutch.

Wolves nudged 2-1 ahead in the 58th minute, with Bull taking advantage of a slip by Preston centre-back Bob Atkins on the half-way line. Bull slipped a fine ball through for Mutch to chase and fire home.

PNE players on a lap of thanks after the 3-3 draw with Wolves at Deepdale

It looked like Wolves had the points in the bag when they netted a third goal in the 68th minute.

Robbie Dennison put over a corner from the left, which Brown came to punch but missed. It left Gary Bellamy with the simple task of heading into an empty net.

North End refused to accept their fate though, and staged a tremendous comeback in the closing moments. With 88 minutes on the clock, Patterson took the ball to the byline and pulled it back into the path of Ellis who tapped home.

Then, in stoppage-time, Patterson cut inside from the left-wing and beat Kendall at the near post with a low shot.

Both sides did a lap of honour after the game, Wolves as champions and PNE as a warm-up for the play-offs the following week.

PNE: Brown, Williams, Atkins, Hughes, Wrightson, Swann, Mooney, Joyce, Patterson, Ellis, Jemson (Philliskirk). Sub (not used): Miller.

Attendance: 14,126