Preston North End retro: Andy Saville scores his final PNE goal in 1996 win over Millwall

Preston North End’s 2-1 victory over Millwall in September 1996 was to be a poignant moment for striker Andy Saville

By Dave Seddon
Monday, 24th January 2022, 3:00 pm

His sweetly-struck volley in the opening minute of the second half was to be Saville’s last goal in a PNE shirt.

The previous season, the bald-headed frontman had found the net 29 times in the league to fire North End to the Third Division title.

A division higher, this goal against Millwall came at the ninth time of asking in terms of league games at the start of the 1996/97 campaign.

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Andy Saville volleys Preston North End's second goal against Millwall at Deepdale in September 1996

Saville was to play three more games before PNE sold him to Wigan Athletic for £125,000 having signed David Reeves as a replacement.

Although his stay was only one full season and the first couple of months on the following one, Saville wrote his name in PNE folklore.

They paid Birmingham £90,000 for his services in June 1995 as Gary Peters plotted an all-out assault on promotion after missing out in the play-offs at the end of the 1994/95 season.

Saville formed a lethal strike partnership with Steve Wilkinson as North End won the title in style.

Michael Holt slides in to give PNE the lead against Millwall

It took the Lilywhites time to find their feet in the league above, the victory over Millwall only their third in the Second Division.

They’d disposed of Wigan over two legs in the League Cup, before bowing out to Tottenham – drawing 1-1 at Deepdale before losing 3-0 in the second leg.

Millwall’s visit came three days after defeat at White Hart Lane, Peters bringing Le Ashcroft, Jamie Squires and Ian Bryson back into the starting XI.

North End could not have asked for a better start, taking the lead in the fourth minute in front of a 9,400 attendance.

North End on the attack against Millwall in September 1996

Kevin Kilbane ran at the visitors’ defence down the centre of the pitch before playing a pass out to Ashcroft on the right-wing.

Ashcroft delivered a fine low cross into the goalmouth which Michael Holt slid in to reach ahead Lions keeper Tim Carter and knock into the back of the net.

It was Ashcroft who went close to adding a second goal during the first half, his shot on the turn from the edge of the box going just wide.

Saville’s big moment came moments after the interval in front of an expectant Town End.

PNE's Lee Ashcroft battles for possession in the victory over Millwall

Kilbane created it, the teenager running from his own half after a Millwall attack had broken up.

His ball from the left channel travelled across the box to Saville who met it with a superb left-foot volley which flew back across the keeper and into the roof of the net.

Millwall halved the deficit in the 64th minute and gave themselves a chance of getting back into the game.

Ricky Newman played a one-two with a team-mate before letting fly with a shot from 20 yards which clipped off a PNE player and looped over keeper Bobby Mimms.

North End were to see the game out and had chances to add to their lead.

PNE: Mimms, Squires, Wilcox, Kidd, Barrick, Ashcroft, Davey, Bryson, Kilbane, Holt (Atkinson 73), Saville. Subs (not used): Moyes, McDonald.

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