Retro: Preston North End's FA Cup replay with Chorley 35 years ago

Preston North End and Chorley locked horns in the FA Cup 35 years ago, with it taking a replay to settle the second round tie.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 5:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 5:23 pm

The Magpies held PNE to a 0-0 draw in the first game played at Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park ground on December 6, 1986.

It was switched there as Victory Park wasn’t big enough to accommodate the crowd, this all-Lancashire clash generating a huge amount of interest.

The attendance at Ewood Park was 15,133, that 5,000 bigger than Blackburn’s largest crowd so far that season.

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Action from Preston North End's FA Cup replay with Chorley at a packed Deepdale in December 1986

After it ended goalless, the replay was played at Deepdale the following Tuesday evening.

That attracted a 16,308 crowd, at stake a visit to Middlesbrough in the third round.

North End made their home advantage count, running out 5-0 winners over their non-league opponents who had dumped Wolves out of the competition in the first round after two replays.

John Thomas scored a hat-trick, with Oshor Williams and Gary Brazil on target.

PNE striker John Thomas celebrates in front of the West Stand paddock after scoring against Chorley

North End were in front with just four minutes played, Thomas running on to a header from Jonathan Clark to get clear and fire a low shot across Magpies goalkeeper Ian Senior.

It was leading scorer Thomas who doubled the lead in the 33rd minute.

Williams slid a pass through the visitors’ defence which Thomas took on and finished confidently.

Thomas completed his hat-trick in the 59th minute from the penalty spot.

PNE put Chorley under pressure at Deepdale

Ronnie Hildersley was tripped in the box and Thomas tucked the spot-kick away for his third treble of the season – he had scored a hat-trick in the previous round against Bury and in a Fourth Division clash with Halifax Town.

Williams made it 4-0, looping a header into the net from a Gary Swann cross, Swann making his home debut after a move from Hull City.

The scoring was completed by Brazil in the 76th minute. Micky Bennett’s strong run carried him up the left-hand side of the pitch and his pass released Thomas, who took the ball to the byline.

Thomas’ cross carried to Brazil beyond the far post who took a touch before firing home.

North End manager John McGrath was pleased to get the tie won at the second time of asking.

McGrath said: “We did the business in a highly efficient manner.”

PNE’s cup joy was to grow as they caused an upset in the third round with a 1-0 win against Middlesbrough, a side at the time top of the Third Division.

Hildersley scored the winner at a frozen Ayresome Park, firing home a superb shot from 25 yards.

That earned North End a visit to Newcastle United, with 5,500 supporters making the journey. They were beaten 2-0 at St James’ Park.

PNE: Brown, Clark, Atkins, Allardyce, Jones, Bennett, Wiliams, Swann, Hildersley, Thomas, Brazil. Subs (not used); McAteer, Saunders.