Preston North End retro: Graham Alexander's PNE debut against Northampton Town 23 years ago

It is 23 years ago this week that Graham Alexander made his Preston North End debut, the first of 421 appearances he made for the Lilywhites.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 3:00 pm

Alexander’s bow came in a 3-0 victory over Northampton Town at Deepdale on March 27, 1999, a couple of days after signing for £50,000 from Luton Town.

Those were the days of the old transfer system when signings could be made at any point during the season until the final Thursday in March.

Joining Alexander in the Deepdale arrivals lounge as the deadline approached were Paul McGregor and Mark Winstanley, signed on loan from Nottingham Forest and Burnley respectively.

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Graham Alexander (left), Paul McGregor and Mark Winstanley after signing for Preston North End in March 1999

North End boss of the time David Moyes threw all three straight into the squad for Northampton’s visit, Alexander starting at right-back with McGregor and Winstanley on the bench.

McGregor got a 12-minute run with the three points wrapped-up, Winstanley an unused substitute – the defender didn’t make an appearance during his loan spell.

Alexander’s display was a sign of things to come, with him quickly catching the eye of the 10,686 crowd.

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Jonathan Macken and Steve Basham both swing at the ball for Preston North End's third goal against Northampton Town at Deepdale in March 1999

In his match report in the Lancashire Evening Post, Brian Ellis wrote: “The £50,000 pre-deadliner buy from Luton oozed quality and confidence, and settled straight into the side like he had been there all his life.”

Steve Basham scored twice and Jonathan Macken was on target against the Cobblers, although the post-match debate centred on whether it should have been a Basham hat-trick.

On loan from Southampton, Basham gave PNE a 36th minute lead and struck again in the 63rd minute.

North End’s third goal with 20 minutes remaining was a bit of a whodunnit, both Basham and Macken appearing to connect with the ball at the same time when it came into the box.

Jonathan Macken and Steve Basham celebrate Preston North End's third goal against Northampton Town at Deepdale in March 1999

It ended up in the roof of the net, both players claiming it but Macken officially awarded it.

Basham’s opener was a shot on the turn from six yards following an Alexander corner, his second an impressive drive from 25 yards.

Both him and Macken swung at Kurt Nogan’s cross for the third, Macken claiming it but video evidence was inconclusive.

PNE: Lucas, Alexander, Jackson, Murdock, Eyres, Appleton, Rankine (Darby 87), McKenna, Nogan, Macken, Basham (McGregor 77). Sub (not used): Winstanley.

Steve Basham hammers home his second Preston North End goal against Northampton Town at Deepdale in March 1999