Manchopper in….Preston

Result: Preston North End 0-2 Nottingham Forest (FA Cup 4th Round Replay)

Venue: Deepdale (Wednesday 5th February 2014, 7.45pm)

Att: 9,744 (849 visiting)

Another late decision was this one, only on the day did I decide to visit my 104th ground, on a cold, wet night in February. Because that’s normal right?! So, at a little before 6pm, I was sat on the train heading towards Manchester, for the connection onwards to Preston, and for Deepdale. It should have been an easier trip than it ended up being, as in true manchopper form, I got off at the wrong station (Deansgate) instead of Oxford Road, whereas I should have been on the service heading to Edinburgh, I instead faced an hours wait for the next one which stopped at the wet station I was currently marooned at. In the knowledge I would certainly miss kick-off, my mood was not helped by a further six-minute delay.

After about 40 minutes, and after toying with the idea of getting off at Buckshaw Parkway, and going to Leyland for Darwen v Chorley instead, I arrived in Preston, as the rain began to abate slightly. Luckily, the taxi rank at the station was full so I jumped in the lead cab and off I set.

5 minutes and £6 later, I was entering the turnstiles at Deepdale with the rain beginning to fall once more, and after paying the £10 entrance fee, I was into the concourse of, poignantly as it was soon to turn out, The Sir Tom Finney Stand. After following the duck’s webbed feet, which was quite accurate for tonight! After following the duck’s advice that the match was ‘this way’ (up some stairs) I entered out into the open, when it dawned on me I had committed a horrible sin. I had failed to buy a programme. After asking whether I could go back out to seek one (knowing full well I couldn’t, but if you don’t ask…) I sat down in my seat just 10 minutes into the game, which was still goalless. A couple of minutes later, I spotted a steward grabbing some leaflets out of a paper delivery bag. No, hang on those aren’t leaflets, I thought, those are programmes!!! To say I was excited would be an understatement. Yes, I really am that sad.

The steward who I had spoken to on arrival about the programme helpfully pointed me out to his colleague, which was nice I thought, and for a further £2 I was the proud owner of the matchday magazine! Now, I could settle back and take in Deepdale and it’s features. Of course, all 4 stands are all seater, with 3 stands of similar size being the two ends and the Sir Tom Finney (West) Stand, with the ‘Invincibles Pavilion’ opposite, which features the executive boxes, amongst other things, and a large clock (read carefully) and a sign bearing the name of the ground. Behind the left hand side goal from my viewpoint is the ‘Bill Shankly Kop’, which is where the travelling Forest fans where situated tonight, sat underneath a large television screen, which shows live action from the game! Opposite this is the ‘Alan Kelly Town End’, which was the replacement for the former Town End terrace. Deepdale can hold a capacity of 23,404 fans.

History Lesson:

Preston North End were originally founded as a cricket club in 1863, adopting the North End suffix due to their geographical location in the town. Originally playing at Moor Park, the club adopted the rugby union code in 1877, before playing their first association football game a year later.

Famously successful early on in professional football, the club beat Hyde 26-0 in an infamous FA Cup tie, which remains the highest winning margin in English football. In 1888-’89 North End became the first league champions, and became the first club to win the double in the same season, as they lifted the FA Cup. the club went unbeaten in both competitions, and are still the only club to achieve this feat to date. They also didn’t concede a goal during their successful cup run.

Preston were league champions again the following season, but have failed to win the title since, and the club’s last major trophy came before the Second World War, the 1938 FA Cup to be exact, although they did earn 5 runners-up league spots during this period(4 top-tier, two second tier). During the war, the club won the Football League War Cup. After the war, Preston picked up the late, great Tom Finney who went on to become the club’s all time scorer with 187 goals from 433 games  in the Lilywhite shirt. He also score 30 times for England. During his career, Preston finished as league champions of the second tier in ’51, and runners-up twice in the top tier. Following his retirement in 1960, Preston were relegated to Division 2 in ’61, and have not regained top-flight status since. 1963 saw the club lift its first League Cup. Preston did reach the FA Cup final in 1964 but lost to West Ham United, before winning the League Cup again in ’66. but were then relegated to the Third Division in 1970. However, Preston won this Division at the first attempt, and bounced back up to Division 2. In 1972, they won the League Cup for a third time in relatively quick succession.

In 1973, Sir Bobby Charlton was appointed as Preston manager,, but was unable to arrest the club’s slide to the Third Division in his first season, and he departed after two seasons in charge. 1978 saw North End win promotion back to Division 2, but went back down three seasons later. In 1985, the club reached new depths as they were relegated to the Fourth Division for the first time ever. The following season saw Preston finish second from bottom in the 4th Division, and only avoided relegation to the Conference after re-election by fellow Football League members. In 1981, Preston won the League cup for  fourth time. 86′-’87 saw Preston go back up to Division 3, where they remained until the reorganisation of the leagues in 1992. After a further season in the ‘new’ Division 2, they were relegated back to Division 3 in 1993. In 1994, the club reached the play-off final, where they were beaten, only to achieve promotion as Division 3 champions the following season under new manager Gary Peters. Peters remained at the club until 1998 when he resigned and was replaced by David Moyes. Under Moyes, Preston developed into Division 2 contenders, losing in a 1998-99 play-off semi-final to Gillingham, before being promoted as champions the following season as the club entered the millennium on a high note.

Success continued into the noughties, with the club narrowly missing out in the 2001 Division 1 play-off final to Bolton Wanderers, Moyes left for Everton in 2002, with Kelham O’Hanlon taking the reigns. Preston narrowly missed out on the play-offs under him, and in the summer of 2002, Craig Brown took the hot seat, and he failed to progress the club, apart from a League Cup win, leaving 2 years later to be succeeded by Billy Davies (who returned tonight as Forest boss). After guiding the club to the play-off final in his first season (a defeat to West Ham), and the following season (a loss to Leeds United), Davies moved to Derby County, where he subsequently achieved promotion, with Paul Simpson taking the reigns.

SImpson started well, keeping the club in the automatic spots early on in his tenure, until an alarming slip down the league mean the club failed to reach the 2007 play-offs. Simpson was sacked the following season, but not before he had banned the playing of an Elvis song prior to games, due to it being “depressing”.  Alan Irvine took over, and kept the club in the division, then reached the play-offs in 2008, where they lost in the semis to Sheffield United. Just before the turn of the year, Irvine was sacked, and replaced by Darren Ferguson, who initially did well, but was sacked just before 2011 began (incidentally on the 29th December, the same day as his predecessor), with Phil Brown replacing him. However, he could do little to spark an upturn in form, and the club were relegated to League One at the end of the season, with the fans commemorating this by burial of a coffin. Read the link. It is an interesting story!

In 2011, Brown was sacked, with Graham Alexander & David Unsworth installed as caretakers, until Graham Westley was appointed in 2012. He was sacked a little over a year later, with ex-Blackpool boss Simon Grayson taking charge. Last season, the club attained a 14th place finish in League One.

Back on to tonight, and it didn’t take long for the first goal of the night, as Jamie Mackie opened the scoring after 18 minutes, the Scotsman delightfully curling an effort into the far top left hand corner. However, the hosts, from a step lower than their visitors battled gamely and began to gain the upper hand, as Dorus De Vries pulled off a great save to deny Kevin Davies’ close range volley. This was the last action for a while of note in the first half, as both sides looked a little cagey, and Forest happy to sit back on their goal advantage, until right on the whistle a scramble ensued in the Forest 6-yard box and as Preston players lunged at the ball in an attempt to force the ball over the line, De Vries gratefully pounced upon the loose ball to ensure his side would go in at the break holding a narrow advantage.

The interval consisted of trying to keep warm as the rain began to hammer down with a purpose, and watching the BT Sport presenters taking cover under umbrellas pitch-side, and a guy decked out in yellow with a cut-out FA Cup roaming around the front of the stand. Hmmmm…..

The teams made their way out just as the rain eased off again, and Kevin Davies went close immediately, firing in an effort that grazed the outside of the post, as North End strived to level the tie, before he headed narrowly wide from a corner a couple of minutes later, as the former Bolton stalwart continued to prove a handful. Soon after, Davies was in the middle of the action again, as his shot appeared to strike the arm of Greg Halford in the area. Was it a penalty?  Not for me, and not for the man whose opinion mattered, Jon Moss, in the middle. Again, the penalty claims were raised with 20 minutes remaining on the clock, as another effort was charged down, though this seemed a little more hopeful than the previous shout.

In the last 15 minutes, Forest began to employ timewasting tactics, and they weren’t too subtle in using them, and the Lilywhites almost claimed the equaliser, as Lascelles hooked the ball off the line. At this point, I was hoping Forest could hold on, as I had to get the 10.10pm train to get home! With 5 minutes left, I took the risky decision to leave a game early at 1-0, and betray something I stand against, which is leaving a game early when it’s still alive i.e. not 4-0, 5-0. This was proven a good decision, eventually, despite overhearing an anguished moan from the stands, as I was to learn later was Preston’s Joe Garner rattling the bar.

After charging through the streets in the now steady, heavy rain, I made the acquaintance of a guy from Liverpool who had done the same as me and left a little early, having almost missed his last train on his last visit. After getting details of the full time, and Darius Henderson’s last-minute strike to win the game 2-0, and sharing views on how unlucky the Lilywhite’s were,  but also how wasteful they were which in turn led to their downfall, we bid goodbye on the platform, again, not as romantic, as you’d think, and I had 15 minutes in hand under a leaky roof for the train back to Deansgate, which arrived early (shock, horror). 25 minutes later, we pulled in at the leading edge of Manchester, and I was soon boarding the bus which signified the final leg of my journey, just as the rain arrived in the City Centre. A top night out, at a great ground. Cheers Preston, I’ll be back soon, and hopefully for an easy journey & 90 minutes next time!

My Preston North End M.o.M.- Kevin Davies

My Nottingham Forest M.o.M.- Gonzalo Jara

RATINGS:

Game:6- Not the best, one side attacking, one defending after an early goal.

Ground:8- Loved it, could really feel the atmosphere in the ground.

Programme:7- Not too bad, a bit thin, but I think it was probably because it was a replay.

Fans:9- Very passionate, and behind their team from minute 1-90.

Food: N/A- Didn’t get any, too cold to move!

Value For Money:8- Cheap day, and anything that’s cheaper than usual is good value!

Referee: 8- Mr. Moss had a good game. Two cup games in a row I’ve seen a game officiated by him I think!

TEAMS:

PRESTON NORTH END: 23.Declan Rudd, 32.Scott Wiseman, 16.David Buchanan, 2.Keith Keane,5.Tom Clarke, 6.Bailey Wright, 7.Chris Humphrey, 19.John Welsh(c), 37.Neil Kilkenny, 9.Kevin Davies, 11.Lee Holmes, SUBS: 1.Thorsten Stuckmann, 10.Stuart Beavon, 22.Jack King, 3.Scott Laird, Joe Garner(p), Paul Gallagher(p), Iain Hume.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST: 29.Dorus De Vries, 3.Dan Harding, 5.Danny Collins, 6.Guy Moussi, 12.Jamie Mackie(1), 15.Greg Halford, 16.Jamaal Lascelles, 18.Gonzalo Jara, 27.Matt Derbyshire, 31.Simon Cox, 39.Djamal Abdoun. SUBS: 1.Karl Darlow, 11.Andy Reid, 14.Jonathan Greening, 21.Jamie Paterson(p), 28.Radoslaw Majewski(p), 38.Ben Osborn, 9.Darius Henderson(p)(1).

REFEREE: Mr. Jon Moss

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