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First Team News

On This Date… 15th May

15 May 2020

We have a trio of Play-Off games to look back on from this date, as well as a modern former player’s birthday.

The first of those Play-Off games was a positive one, as current North End striker David Nugent was on the scoresheet as we defeated Derby County 2-0 at Deepdale.
Over 20,000 packed into Deepdale as the Lilywhites looked to put distance between themselves and George Burley’s Rams, who had defeated Billy Davies’ men on the final day of the regular season eight days earlier.
But it proved to be Richard Cresswell's late goal that saw North End take control of the tie. A defensive header struck Cresswell eight yards from goal and dribbled past goalkeeper Lee Camp in the closing stages after Nugent had scored PNE’s opener after collecting Chris Sedgwick's flick and slipping the ball past Camp.
Nugent also volleyed wide and Cresswell missed the target while Derby came closest through a Mo Konjic header that drifted inches wide.
PNE dominated the opening half, while the visitors, after switching to 4-4-2, greatly improved in the second half, but having enjoyed at least an equal share of the final 45 minutes Cresswell's late goal meant Burley's team had it all to do in the second leg at Pride Park.
The Rams, already without influential duo Inigo Idiakez and Grzegorz Rasiak, suffered a further blow when Michael Johnson was stretchered off after just six minutes with a knee injury.
North End welcomed back Eddie Lewis just three weeks after an operation on his appendix and the American was soon imposing himself upon the game as the home team dominated.
His cross after eight minutes was headed goalwards by Cresswell and a mazy run from Lewis shortly afterwards opened up the Rams defence only for a poor final ball to elude Nugent. A neat reverse pass then played Cresswell through, but the striker shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Camp was quickly off his line to smother at the feet of Sedgwick as the home side continued to push forward in front of their own fans. And the goal finally came when Nugent burst through to collect Sedgwick's pass before diverting the ball superbly past Camp with the outside of his right boot.
The half-time whistle went without Derby having mustered a shot at goal and George Burley brought on Adam Bolder for Tommy Smith at the break with Marco Reich moving alongside Paul Peschisolido up front.
Billy Davies’ men continued to threaten though, Lewis delivering a teasing free-kick that eluded everyone, but Konjic came close to an equaliser, heading narrowly wide from a free-kick.
And Derby noticeably improved after the break, winning more balls in midfield and enjoying more possession. The visitors thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Ian Taylor, making only his second start in three months, went down under a challenge from Brian O'Neil.
Nugent might have doubled PNE’s lead with an eight-yard volley but, with Richard Jackson closing him down, the 20-year-old striker shot wide. And in the last ten minutes a sharp one-two presented Nugent with another difficult chance on the volley, but again he missed the target from an acute angle.
But Derby's improved second half came to nothing when Cresswell's lucky goal extended the home team's lead.
Billy Davies said after: “I'm pleased but it's only half-time. The first thing I said to the players at the end of the game was exactly that. In the first 25 minutes I thought we played some wonderful football.
“We expected them to come back into the game, but it's a great result and a great performance."
The other two games were not quite as positive for the Lilywhites, losing 2-0 at Torquay United in 1994, before winning second leg to reach Wembley and losing the second leg at Rotherham United’s New York Stadium 3-1, despite opening the scoring through Paul Gallagher.
And that player celebrating today, is popular former left back Scott Laird, who celebrates his 32nd birthday today – happy birthday Scott!

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