Retro match: Seven-goal nail-biter as Preston North End beat Crystal Palace 4-3
Preston couldn’t escape the Fergie hairdryer treatment despite coming out on top of this action-packed clash in October 2010.
Darren Ferguson was fuming that his side had once again put him and the Deepdale faithful through a rollercoaster of emotions.
The scoreline suggests a seven-goal thriller, North End squeezing home for only their second home win of the season.
But really it should have been a stroll for the hosts after they took a 4-1 lead with 25 minutes to play.
Two more Crystal Palace goals got the nerves jangling though, to the extent Ferguson’s men were left desperately hanging on to their slender lead.
The joy at the final whistle quickly gave way to a dressing-room inquest as to why a seemingly comfortable afternoon had turned into a backs-against-the-wall job.
Ferguson said: “Up to 4-1, I was pleased – after that it was absolute rubbish. We were left hanging on to win a game which was so comfortable.”
Looking down the teamsheet, Ferguson was able to field what is probably his strongest side. There were returns from injury for Wayne Brown and Matty James.
For all that has been said about the three goals conceded in this one, the defence looked better for having Brown in it.
North End went in front in the 13th minute when Paul Coutts cut the ball back from the by-line for Jon PARKIN to pick his spot from 10 yards with a low finish into the corner, the Beast’s 100th career goal.
Palace levelled within seven minutes with Owen GARVAN lashing home into the top corner from 25 yards.
While fingers could be pointed for the fact he wasn’t closed down, you couldn’t take anything away from the Eagles midfielder for the superb finish.
The hosts were swiftly back ahead, Coutts’ diagonal pass from the wing chested down by PARKIN on the edge of the box and dispatched powerfully into the bottom corner with his right boot.
And it was a lead Preston stretched nine minutes before the interval, with Iain Hume rolling a quickly-taken free-kick into the path of Keith TREACY, who took a touch before rifling a stunning 25-yard shot into the top corner. Referee Geoff Eltringham rejected two penalty claims in quick succession in the second half, both for handball, first against Alex Morrow and then when Gardner did a passable impression of a juggler as he jostled with Parkin.
But the Sunderland whistler did point to the spot when Coutts went down under a challenge from Julian Bennett.
DAVIDSON hammered the penalty left-footed into the roof of the net, with Palace keeper Julian Speroni not even bothering to dive.
The visitors threw themselves a lifeline in the 69th minute when Andy DORMAN ghosted into the box to plant a free header into the net off the inside of the far post.
And the nerves of the home faithful really started to get shredded 11 minutes from time as Darel Russell’s sliding tackle on substitute Pablo Counago just inside the box evened up the penalty count.
James VAUGHAN stepped up to tuck the spot-kick into the bottom corner.
It was a grim fight to hold on to the slender advantage but hold on they did – just.