Retro: Preston North End's second-half fight back against Brentford in 1997

Lee Ashcroft and Colin Murdock were on the scoresheet as Preston North End staged a second-half comeback to beat Brentford at Deepdale in October 1997.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 3:00 pm

The Lilywhites trailed to a Bees opener in the first half and were indebted to a penalty save from goalkeeper Tepi Moilanen.

Ashcroft equalised soon after half-time, with Murdock heading the winner six minutes from time.

It ended a barren spell in front of goal for North End, their six previous league and cup games having seen them find the net just twice.

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Preston North End striker Lee Ashcroft lifts a shot over Brentford goalkeeper Kevin Dearden at Deepdale in October 1997

This was the first time for a month they had scored two goals in a game.

There had been a chorus of boos at the interval as Gary Peters’ men went in 1-0 down but it was all cheers at the final whistle.

PNE had an early chance when Ashcroft met a cross from Mark Rankine but headed wide.

Brentford was awarded a penalty with a quarter of an hour gone after Bob Taylor and Murdock competed for a high ball.

PNE goalkeeper Tepi Moilanen saves a penalty against Brentford

Taylor went down and after referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot, the Bees striker stayed on the floor for three minutes having treatment.

The delay worked in PNE’s favour, Kevin Rapley seeing his penalty saved by Moilanen.

Rapley made amends in the 35th minute, setting up the contest’s opening goal.

He got room down the left and sent over a cross which Marcus Bent headed beyond Moilanen’s dive.

Preston strikers Lee Ashcroft and David Reeves are involved in a goalmouth scramble against Brentford at Deepdale in October 1997

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PNE manager Peters gave his players a bit of an earful at half-time and it had the desired result.

The hosts showed their intent in the early moments of the second half when it needed a fine save from Bees goalkeeper Kevin Dearden to tip David Reeves’ lob over the bar.

North End equalised in the 50th minute, Dean Barrick’s perfectly-weighted through ball opened up the visitors defence and played Ashcroft clear.

Preston defender Colin Murdock (No.4) celebrates scoring the winner against Brentford at Deepdale in October 1997

He moved inside from the left channel and curled a superb right-foot shot over Dearden into the far top corner of the net.

Michael Appleton had a penalty appeal rejected after appearing to be held back by Ijah Anderson.

Ashcroft saw a shot well saved by Dearden as PNE pressed for a winner, one which duly arrived in the 84th minute.

Appleton delivered a corner from the left into the box which team-mates Murdock and Michael Jackson both jumped for.

Jackson got the first contact, the centre-back’s header brushing Ashcroft’s chest and looping up.

Dearden punched clearance looped into the air, Murdock first to it to head into the net from six yards.

Victory lifted North End into fifth place in the Second Division table, with Peters admitting his side were still not hitting the heights.

Peters said: “I don’t think we have got into full gear yet.”

PNE: Moilanen, Jackson, Murdock, Kidd (Cartwright 80), Parkinson, Gregan Rankine, Appleton, Reeves (Holt 70), Ashcroft. Sub (not used): Darby.