It’s fairly easy to pick a memorable match when talking about Preston North End versus Birmingham City, as we head back to Friday 18th May 2001!
It was a night all PNE fans of a certain age recall with delight, as David Moyes’ Lilywhites set up a Championship Play-Off Final with Bolton Wanderers at the Millennium Stadium on a dramatic night under the lights at Deepdale.
Here’s the report from the BBC from the game…
‘Northern Ireland international David Healy rifled in a glorious goal as Preston North End survived a dramatic penalty shoot-out to defeat Birmingham and reach the first division Play-Off Final.
‘Healy put Preston level on aggregate in the 23rd minute when he crashed in an angle shot.
‘Healy again showed his cool awareness in front of goal when he stroked home a penalty in the nerve-tingling and controversial shoot-out at the end.
‘Marcelo and Darren Purse missed Birmingham's first two penalties and Rob Edwards failed to convert for the home side before Paul McKenna scored the all-important penalty to send the Lilywhites through.
‘Geoff Horsfield struck in the second-half to restore the visitors' advantage and it seemed Preston's cause was doomed when Graham Alexander missed a late penalty to equalise.
‘But David Moyes' side refused to give up and reaped their reward when Mark Rankine scored a dramatic late equaliser to take the game into extra-time.
‘Blues keeper Ian Bennett twice pulled off crucial saves to deny Edwards and Healy before the game went to penalties.
‘Angry Birmingham boss Trevor Francis did not help his team's nerves when he ordered his players to pitch-side before they returned to the centre circle.
‘The visitors lost on penalties in the Worthington Cup Final and their spot-kick misery was compounded as they lost in similar circumstances again.
‘And they were left ruing several missed opportunities in normal time to put the tie out of PNE's reach.
‘In the eighth minute, Jon McCarthy's persistence was almost rewarded.
‘He chased what seemed a lost cause and tried to divert the ball past Lucas, but the keeper parried and reacted well to get an outstretched leg to Marcelo's shot from the rebound.
‘The fall-out from the move saw Birmingham's injury jinx strike again when McCarthy, who has only recently returned from a lengthy lay-off, was forced off injured.
‘North End responded to the early scares by carving open an excellent opening when Jonathan Macken crossed low for fellow striker Healy.
‘He seemed offside but no flag was waved and it was Birmingham's chance to breath a sigh of relief when Healy's shot was straight at Bennett.
‘Martin Grainger then appeared to handle the ball as he tried to clear a PNE throw-in, but Healy made any appeals irrelevant by powering an angled shot high into the visitors' net.
‘Marcelo's turn and shot was saved by a well-positioned Lucas before Danny Sonner headed against the crossbar from a Stan Lazaridis cross.
‘Lazaridis had come on at half-time and was a constant thorn down David Moyes’ side’s left side.
‘Just when the visitors might have been wondering about their Play-Off curse, Lazaridis' 59th minute cross was missed by Marcelo.
‘But his strike partner Horsfield arrived at the far post to steer the ball past Lucas.
‘With an extra confidence about their play, Birmingham almost put the tie beyond North End's reach shortly afterwards.
‘Marcelo's header from a Grainger corner struck Lucas, who manged to get a hand to stop Horsfield nodding in the rebound.
‘The home side thought they had pulled level when they were awarded a penalty after Sonner's hand-ball. But Alexander's spot-kick rattled the crossbar.
‘However, just when the visitors finally thought they had made it, PNE equalised.
‘An acutely-angled Lazaridis shot rolled across the home goal-line and the Lilywhites immediately went up the other end and scored.
‘Healy's shot was only parried by Bennett and industrious midfielder Rankine, who looked offside earlier in his run, slotted home the loose ball.
‘Preston North End then went on to win and picked the perfect occasion to score their first victory against Birmingham this season after three previous defeats.’
PNE line-up: Lucas, Alexander, Kidd, Murdock, Edwards, Gregan, Rankine, Cartwright, Anderson (McKenna, 63), Healy, Macken (Cresswell, 113). Subs not used: Moilanen, Barry-Murphy, Gunnlaugsson.
Birmingham City line-up: Bennett, Grainger, Atherton (Lazaridis, 46), Michael Johnson, Purse, Sonner, O'Connor (Hughes, 81), McCarthy (Eaden, 13), Woodhouse, Marcelo, Horsfield. Subs not used: Poole, Holdsworth.
Referee: Mr P Danson (Leicester)