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First Team News

On This Day… 29th April

29 April 2020

After Monday’s celebration of achieving a title in 1996, this date 20 years ago saw one presented at Deepdale, with the title and promotion already tied up with two games to go.

The Lilywhites had both clinched promotion and won the second division five days earlier – bizarrely after being beaten at Cambridge United.
This was the triumphant homecoming for David Moyes’ men, the title trophy presented to PNE skipper Sean Gregan after the final whistle.
Fittingly, they finished their home campaign with a victory, beating the visitors from London 3-2. All three North End goals came in the first half, two of them before the clock had reached the eighth minute. Millwall pulled two goals back after the interval, but thankfully did not spoil the party.
This was a 15th home win of the season and 19,500 fans were packed inside the ground to see it. PNE opened the scoring before a Millwall player had touched the ball!
After the Lilywhites had taken kick-off, Brett Angell won a free-kick after being pushed by David Tuttle. David Eyres swung over the free-kick which travelled into the net without anyone getting a touch.
Angell had stuck his head towards it and tried to claim the goal, but Eyres was rightly credited with it. Just 31 seconds were on the clock and already the party had started.
North End survived a strong shout for a penalty at the other end when Millwall striker Neil Harris went down in a heap between Ryan Kidd and Rob Edwards. They made it 2-0 in the eighth minute, Eyres rolling a short corner to Icelandic striker Bjarki Gunnlaugsson.
Eyres collected the return pass and whipped in a cross which keeper David Warner fumbled after bumping into a team-mate. With the ball on the floor, Michael Jackson was first to it and scooped a shot into the roof of the net.
Warner had an eventful few minutes, saving well from Paul McKenna and denying Alexander. He was also booked for a foul on Gunnlaugsson on the edge of the box, fortunate that he did not see red.
North End made it 3-0 in the 40th minute. McKenna rode a tackle from Robbie Ryan down the right wing and sent over a low cross which Angell stabbed into the net from close range. It was the seventh goal of Angell’s time on loan from Stockport and he was to bag another in the final game at Bristol City the following week.
If North End had bossed the first half, it was Millwall who enjoyed the better of the second as they looked for a way back into the contest. Just two minutes after the interval, a cross from Harris was helped on to Paul Ifill.
The midfielder took the ball round Edwards on the right-hand side of the box and hammered a shot past Tepi Moilanen. Seven minutes later, the visitors had a second goal.
Harris got past Kidd down the right channel and pulled back a cross for Lucas Neill to fire home from 15 yards. Millwall had chances for an equaliser, while PNE created enough openings to extend the lead. As it was, it remained 3-2 and then the next part of the party started.
The trophy presentation saw Sir Tom Finney join the players and coaching staff on the pitch. Gregan lifted the trophy, PNE’s skipper having missed the final stages of the season after breaking a bone in his back.
Sadly there weren’t the same celebrations 98 years ago, as North End lost the 1922 FA Cup Final to Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge.
This was the last Final before Wembley opened the following season and the first time we had reached the final since 1889. We had our revenge over the same opponents 16 years later when a George Mutch penalty in the final minute of extra time clinched a 1-0 win.
Stevie May scored his only goal for the club on this date in 2017. The Scottish striker endured a torrid time at Deepdale following his move from Sheffield Wednesday as he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in only his eighth appearance.
He was out for 15 months and finally scored his first goal in the final home game versus Rotherham United, but he ended his Deepdale career with only 12 appearances to his name. He returned to Scotland to regain fitness and confidence at Aberdeen and is currently with former club St Johnstone.
Tommy Thompson played his last Lilywhites game in 1961, a year after his great friend and striking partner Tom Finney had retired.
A native of the north east, 'Topper' signed from Aston Villa in 1955 and immediately set about establishing a lethal striking partnership with Tom.
Over the next five seasons, they contributed a combined total of 209 goals in 338 appearances (despite both missing over half a season each due to injury) and they shared the mantle of leading goalscorer between themselves.
In 1957/58, Tommy was only three short of equalling our league record for a season when he hit 34 goals in 41 matches. By the time Topper left for Stoke in 1961, his 213 games for PNE had brought an incredible 128 goals for one of the nicest men ever to play the game.

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