Retro game: Sam Allardyce gets his first Preston North End goal in cup clash with West Ham United

Preston North End and West Ham United were drawn together in the second round of the Littlewoods Cup in September 1986.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 3:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 1:42 pm

To say the fortunes of the two clubs had contrasted in the months before, would be an understatement.

The Hammers had finished third in the First Division in the 1985/86 season, just four points shy of champions Liverpool.

At the other end of the scale, PNE had been forced to apply for re-election after a 91st place finish.

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Sam Allardyce heads Preston North End's equaliser against West Ham United at Deepdale in September 1986

They came together a few weeks into the 1986/87 campaign in a two-legged second round tie.

North End had got there after beating local rivals Blackpool 2-1 on aggregate in the first round.

On the tightest of budgets, John McGrath had re-built the squad and his new-look side had started the league campaign encouragingly.

The visit of West Ham for the first leg attracted a bumper crowd of 13,153, the biggest at Deepdale for four years.

Sam Allardye (centre) in congratulated by PNE team-mates Alex Jones and Gary Brazil

The East London outfit sent a full-strength side to Lancashire which featured first-choice strikers Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie.

North End had the ball in the net in the 16th minute through Gary Brazil but the goal was ruled out for a foul by Sam Allardyce on West Ham keeper Phil Parkes.

Brazil was denied by a good save by Parkes as the home side settled into the game well.

However, they were to fall behind 11 minutes before the interval, handing the visitors their way to goal.

Gary Brazil finds the net for PNE against West Ham but the effort is disallowed for a foul on Hammers keeper Phil Parkes

PNE skipper Jonathan Clark, who had ended the previous season as caretaker manager, saw a stray pass fall into the path of Hammers winger Mark Ward.

He didn’t need a second invitation, Ward riding a couple of challenges before shooting past North End keeper David Brown.

The hosts got through to half-time without any more slips, McGrath’s team-talk based on injecting belief for the second half.

What McGrath said to the players did work, with them attacking with far more purpose – front two Brazil and John Thomas getting into the game.

North End midfielder Oshor Williams challenges in the air against West Ham, with a busy Kop in the background

Their equaliser in the 61st minute came from a defender, the 33-year-old Allardyce.

That season, Allardyce was part of a three-man defence with Bob Atkins and Alex Jones – a trio dubbed ‘the solicitors’ by McGrath.

This was the first game they had started together, Atkins having forced his way into the side at the expense of Les Chapman.

Atkins set the equaliser in motion with a run out from the back before picking out Ronnie Hildersley on PNE’s left-wing.

Hildersley took the ball on before sending over a cross which Allardyce ran in to meet and headed superbly past the dive of Parkes.

North End were beaten 4-1 in the second leg at Upton Park a fortnight later, midfielder Oshor Williams scoring.

PNE: Brown, Bulmer, Atkins, Jones, Allardyce, McAteer, Williams, Clark, Hildersley, Thomas, Brazil. Subs (not used): Chapman, Bennett.

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