When Preston's home defeat to Carlisle in 1998 proved a turning point in the fortunes of David Moyes
Preston North End’s 3-0 home defeat to Carlisle United in February 1998 was as grim as the scoreline suggests but in fact proved to be a turning point in the club’s fortunes.
Recently appointed PNE boss David Moyes selected himself in the starting XI for the one and only time of his managerial career when Colin Murdock was ruled out by illness.
So he experienced first hand the problems North End were having on the pitch at the time.
While the Scotsman had overseen a couple of wins in the Auto Windscreens Shield, he was still chasing his first league victory.
This was an 11th Second Division game without a win for North End – a run going back to Gary Peters’ final few weeks in charge.
Things did swing for Moyes after this torrid night against Carlisle though.
Five days later they won at Bournemouth, following that up with a home victory over Luton.
In fact North End lost only two of their last 13 games to avoid the drop by nine points and finish 15th.
The following season they reached the play-offs before Moyes guided them to the Second Division title in the 1999/2000 season.
That upward trend was in contrast to this Tuesday night surrender to Carlisle.
Moyes made the decision to play in the defence on the day of the game, Murdock’s absence a late call.
He handed French striker Habib Sissoko his first start up front alongside loanee John Mullin.
North End fell behind in the 10th minute, Nick Wright’s cross from the left finding Billy Barr at the far post who knocked the ball into the net.
Sean Gregan came ever so close to an equaliser five minutes later, the skipper’s header coming back off the underside of the bar.
The Cumbrians doubled their advantage in the 26th minute.
Lee Ashcroft’s stray pass was intercepted by Tony Hopper who played in Wright to rifle a shot home.
Sissoko was denied a goal by a fine save from United keeper Tony Craig.
Carlisle’s third goal came in the 63rd minute to the fury of the North End fans in a crowd of 8,985.
Barr found Wright with a pass in the box who find the net with a shot which went in off the inside the post.
At that point, some PNE fans turned their frustration in the direction of the directors’ box.
On the pitch, Sissoko’s pass played substitute Jonathan Macken through on goal.
As he got into the box, Craig dived at his feet to smother Macken’s shot.
At the final whistle there was a sit-down protest by a group of fans in the Town End, while others gathered outside in the car park to voice their feelings.
The result left Preston hovering on the edge of the relegation zone but the climb away was soon to start.
PNE: Moilanen, Parkinson, Jackson, Moyes, Barrick, Cartwright (Davey 69), Gregan Appleton, Ashcroft (Eyres 46), Sissoko, Mullin (Macken 60).