Memory match: PNE v Sheffield United, August 2000

Preston's win over Sheffield United at Deepdale in August 2000 maintained their 100% start to life back in the second tier of English football.
PNE and Sheffield United players wade into a skirmish after Paul Devlin's tackle on Paul McKenna leads to a red cardPNE and Sheffield United players wade into a skirmish after Paul Devlin's tackle on Paul McKenna leads to a red card
PNE and Sheffield United players wade into a skirmish after Paul Devlin's tackle on Paul McKenna leads to a red card

Having beaten Grimsby away on the opening day of the season, this was their first league game back in front of the home faithful since being promoted.

It was a tasty old clash with the Blades, Michael Appleton and Jon Macken scoring in the first six minutes.

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Macken netted a second later in the game, one which saw the visitors finish with 10 men after Paul Devlin was sent off.

Blades boss Neil Warnock was ordered from the dugout too after a word out of turn about the red card.

His side had turned up in one of the most garish away kits seen for many a year, a combination of washed-out gold and light purple.

It was Preston who were on colour from the whistle, just 64 seconds showing on the clock when they took the lead.

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Paul McKenna’s throw-in came to Steve Basham who laid it off into Appleton’s path.

The midfielder made room for himself on the edge of the box before clipping it past United keeper Simon Tracey.

Having scored the week before at Grimsby, it was a great start to the season from the ex-Manchester United man.

North End doubled their lead in the sixth minute, Iain Anderson’s throw-in on the right wing finding Graham Alexander. Grezza lifted a cross into the box, 
Macken controlled on his chest, turned his man and fired a low shot into the 
bottom corner of the net.

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United looked to battle their way back, with Marcus Bent and David Kelly a threat up front.

In the 22nd minute, Wayne Quinn saw a free-kick curl against the post.

As the ball bounced in the goalmouth, Alexander was on hand to clear the danger.

North End goalkeeper Teuvo Moilanen tipped a header from Kelly past the post, then Quinn nodded wide when it looked easier for him to score.

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After starting the first half so well, PNE did likewise in the second and came so close to scoring again.

McKenna’s slide-rule pass released Appleton on goal, only a fine tackle from Blades skipper Shaun Murphy as he was about to pull the trigger, cutting out the danger.

There was a chance for Macken after he met a flick from Appleton, but his shot was charged down by George Santos.

North End’s third goal came in the 72nd minute.

Basham took possession and moved towards the box, cleverly flicking the ball over Gus Uhlenbeek.

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The defender tugged his shirt but referee Phil Dowd played the advantage.

That allowed Basham to play in Macken in the box, the striker lifting a shot over Treacy before running the ball into the net.

Moilanen made a couple of save from Bent, the first of those seeing the Finn dive to parry a shot from 12 yards.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 80th minute.

Devlin launched himself into a two-footed lunge at McKenna, players from both sides wading in as tempers flared.

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Once referee Dowd had dispersed the mob, he took Devlin to one side and showed him the red card.

Warnock’s protests to the fourth official about Devlin’s dismissal saw him banished from the dugout.

In the last minute, a shot from McKenna hit Tracey on the leg and struck the post.