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First Team News

On This Day… 28th April

28 April 2020

Lots and lots of connections to the steel city of Sheffield in today’s look back on year’s gone by… but also a final hurrah for one PNE legend.

Firstly the three Sheffield connections and we played our only ‘Test Match’ today in 1894 at Bramall Lane, Sheffield.
Our opponents, to decide who played in first second division following season were Notts County. Test matches were short lived early form of Play-Off to determine promotion and relegation and featured the team third from bottom in the first division and the third placed team in the second division.
North End won 4-0 to retain our first division status only one year after being runners-up for the third time in a row and having been in top two of Football League in first five seasons.
Also today, ‘Sedginho’ celebrates his 40th birthday! Sheffield-born Chris Sedgwick joined the Lilywhites from Rotherham United in 2004 and became an integral part of the right flank of the team over the next five and a half years.
He made over 250 appearances and was a real fans' favourite for his hard work and endeavour, not only in attack, but also in supporting his full back.
His partnership with Graham Alexander (more from him soon), helped set up numerous goals from that side and he also contributed 14 goals of his own. He left for boyhood favourites Sheffield Wednesday in 2010 and is always a welcome guest at Deepdale.
On this date two years ago, we took the battle for the Play-Offs down to the final game of the season, when Alan Browne's second half winner kept alive North End's Championship top six hopes, but ended those of Sheffield United.
Browne poked home the winner, pouncing when Blades goalkeeper Jamal Blackman parried Josh Harrop's shot.
United had the best chance of a cagey first half, Leon Clarke forcing a point-blank save from Declan Rudd. The win brought PNE within two points of Derby County in the final Play-Off spot.
Both sides kicked off needing victory to maintain their end of season lottery chances, as well as other results to go their way. But clear openings were thin on the ground in the first half, with Clarke's effort the only attempt on target.
The game opened up after the break and, following Browne's goal, PNE substitute Tom Clarke touched Tom Barkhuizen's header into the net - but from an offside position.
United piled forward for an equaliser as David Brooks' shot was pushed over by Rudd, and Mark Duffy's effort deflected wide, but the visitors held on for only their second win at Bramall Lane in their last 19 visits.
North End manager Alex Neil said post-match: “It's certainly one of those games where we'll take the result and the performance separately. It's probably as poor as we've played technically in terms of moving the ball and controlling the game, but we still managed to win the game.
“I don't want to take anything away from the players. They've dug in and done what they had to do to get the result, but it's certainly not a vintage performance from us.”
Old Invincible Johnny Gordon was born on this date way back in 1861. As well as being a member of the first league champions and double-winning side, Johnny also holds the record as scorer of our first ever penalty.
Penatlies were only introduced in 1891 and he was successful from the spot in October, in a 4-2 away win at Blackburn. He thus became the first of the 108 players to date to score a penalty for the Lilywhites before repeating the feat a month later versus Bolton.
Our final look back today was a special occasion, as Graham Alexander ended his 1,000-plus game professional career on this date with a goal to equalise with his last touch of his career.
League One champions Charlton Athletic had a 2-0 lead at the break after Danny Haynes fired them in front after PNE failed to clear their lines. On-loan Dany N'Guessan struck a second after capitalising on more sloppy play.
But Nicky Hunt cut the deficit in half with a stunning volley from 25 yards and Alexander completed a dramatic comeback with a curling free kick in the final minute.
After the game Grezza said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd do that. The free-kick was given, I just jogged up to it and I was going to take it, no matter what.
“I was as nervous as I was when I made my debut at 19 because it was such a big thing for me to stop playing football. To be given this chance to say thank you and goodbye everyone, hopefully I've repaid everyone with the goal.”
You can hear all about this day and his memories from his career in our special edition podcast, click here for details.

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