Preston North End retro game: When Frank Worthington lit up Deepdale with a stunning goal against Wolves in 1987

Preston North End fans when they think of Frank Worthington, will have one game stuck in their minds.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 3:00 pm

Wolves visited Deepdale on February 1987 for a clash which attracted a 12,592 crowd.

At the time North End were in second place in the Fourth Division table and their visitors eighth.

Worthington, who died on Monday after a long illness, had signed for PNE a week or so before the clash.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He was 38 at the time, a veteran of 800 plus games, but Preston manager John McGrath saw him as just the player to help put the team towards promotion.

A player still in demand, Bristol Rovers wanted him, while he had offers to play in Spain too.

North End appealed to Worthington though, their player/assistant manager Les Chapman had been best man at Worthington’s wedding.

“This is a wonderful move for me, you sense the club is geared for success from the moment you walk through the door,” he said on putting pen to paper.

Frank Worthington chips Preston North End's equaliser against Wolves at Deepdale in February 1987

“I plumped for Preston for a number of reasons. I was more than happy with the way the manager conducted the entire business and made it clear he wanted me.”

Playing on Deepdale’s plastic pitch held no fears either, Worthington having played on similar surfaces during stints in the United States.

The Wolves game was his home debut after he had featured in away wins at Torquay and Hereford.

It was a cracker of a game, Wolves happy to attack and not sit back like other teams had done that season.

PNE striker Gary Brazil in action against Wolves at Deepdale

The Midlands outfit had the better of the opening 20 minutes or so, Steve Bull forcing a good save from Alan Kelly and later heading over the bar from close range.

However, it was North End who took the lead in the 31st minute.

Worthingon collected the ball in midfield and swept a pass out to Gary Brazil.

Some tricky wing play some Brazil turn Steve Stoutt inside out before sending over a cross to the near post.

North End go close with a free-kick against Wolves

Chapman flicked it on and Gary Swann lunged forward to head home.

Wolves quickly turned the game on its head, scoring twice in a minute.

Micky Holmes broke down the visitors’ right, playing in Stoutt on the overlap who found the net with a 20-yard shot.

Holmes got the second goal, shooting past Alan Kelly from inside the box.

Seven minutes into the second half came the big moment for Worthington, one Preston supporters still fondly remember now.

Bob McNeil’s free-kick from the right travelled spun off a Wolves defender’s head and few across the box.

PNE players Alex Jones and Gary Brazil go close against Wolves

It came to Worthington to the right of goal who brought it down with his thigh before executing the most perfect of chips which sailed into the far top corner.

His celebration saw him run back to his own penalty area, taking the applause of the crowd and team-mates.

PNE: Kelly, Atkins, Jones, Allardyce, McNeil, Chapman, Swann, Hildersley, Bennett, Worthington, Brazil. Sub (not used): Miller.

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here