|Matches of Yesteryear - PNE v U's 6/8/11|
Written by wessex_exile on Friday, 11th Oct 2019 21:26
Preston North End v Colchester United
Saturday 6th August 2011
NPower Football League 1 (Tier 3)
Match #18 of the series, and we are at Deepdale for the first league match of the 2011/12 season against Preston North End. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I always try and do first and last game each season, so I wasn’t exactly grateful for the fixture computer landing me with a 450-mile round trip. Still, stout heart and all that, and a ridiculously early train departure saw me on my way for the 5-hour journey to the frozen north. Not quite the furthest I’ve travelled following the U’s, but certainly the furthest I’ve attempted relying on our railway network – a perilous reliance at the best of times. At one point I had the idea of popping in to the National Football Museum at Deepdale, but it turned out lack of funding had closed it a year earlier, and it wasn’t to reopen (in Manchester) until a year later.
The U’s lined up:
10..Kem Izzet (c)
22..Anthony Wordsworth (John White 83’)
7….Ashley Vincent (Lloyd James 73’)
Preston North End were managed by Phil “perma-tan” Brown, who had arrived in January that year, though too late to steer PNE away from Championship relegation. Nevertheless, PNE were (and are) a big club, and one of the top tips for an immediate return to the Championship in 2011/12. There are few player connections between the two sides, but there was one significant name starting for PNE that day, the return of Graham Alexander after a four-year stint at rivals Burnley – and to a tumultuous welcome too. For the U’s, this was also Michael Rose’s debut. I think this was the first match between the U’s and Preston since they hammered us 7-0 in the FA Cup 3rd round back in January 2010, so we really did have something to prove – and prove it we did.
Preston started brightly, roared on by a decent crowd, and Cousins was kept on his toes, fumbling and then recovering a Coutts 25-yarder, and then keeping out a shot from Alexander. However, it wasn’t all one-way traffic, and a decent free-kick from Rose was only just saved by Turner in the PNE goal. Two minutes later, Turner wasn’t as fortunate, as JJ heading into the path of Wordsworth who drove a ferocious shot into the net to send the travelling faithful delirious. Even though Preston continued to press, the score stayed 1-0 up to the U's at half-time, and for Brown, ominous cracks were beginning to show in his PNE defence.
These cracks were exploited excellently virtually straight from kick-off in the second half, when a delightful flick-on by Wordsworth saw Henderson running through clear, rounding Turner to roll the ball into the empty net – and we were in dreamland! However, the pressure was mounting, and not long after Cousins again had to struggle to keep out another decent free-kick, PNE pulled one back. On the hour, and with the crowd baying for Alexander to let fly from 30 yards out, he instead rolled a perfect pass through to Mellor in the box, who turned and shot past Cousins. However, the U’s were made of sterner stuff on that day, and instead of parking the bus and trying to hold on, went for the defensive jugular. A long ball forward leaving the Preston defence flat-footed put Odejayi and Turner in a one-on-one foot race, which Odejayi won, flicking the ball sideways into the path of Henderson, who calmly drove home to restore our two goal lead.
However, Preston were far from beaten, and a fantastic solo goal from Coutts, weaving past several U’s players, and finishing with a stunning shot past Cousins, brought them back into it in the 70th minute. By now, still not content to try and hold on, the match became a gripping end-to-end contest, with both sides going close, until Odejayi settled it. A good effort from Heath at point-blank range was brilliantly kept out by Turner, but there was Odejayi to stab home the rebound, and score a fourth for the U’s.
Forget Dreamland, we had now arrived in Utterly Mentalville…
Rarely have I witnessed such a complete performance by the U’s away from home, and against such illustrious opponents as well – perhaps only matched by our 3-0 victory at Hillsborough? Preston did what they could damage-limitation wise, but to now avail, and the match finished 4-2 to the U’s. I’m not certain, but there must have been about 300 U’s fans there that day, and the celebrations at the final whistle were truly something to behold!
Preston North End 2 (Mellor 60’, Coutts 70’) Colchester United 4 (Wordsworth 12’, Henderson 49’ 65’, Odejayi 76’)
After the match, Ward commented “We've beaten a very good team. I don't think very many will score four or win here. A major problem last year was scoring goals away from home. The finishing was a lot better, we've worked very hard at it.”
Phil Brown did turn things around for a while, going on a winning streak to lift Preston to second in the table, but injuries to key players started to take their toll. In December, having slipped back to 10th place, Preston dispensed with Brown’s services, and he remained clubless until signed by our dear friends Southend in 2013 (his first match losing the Football League Trophy final at Wembley 2-0 to Crewe, after Paul Sturrock had done all the hard work getting them there).
As for the U’s, our opening day victory propelled us to 3rd in the league, but we quickly settled back to a fairly consistent upper mid-table slot, finishing the 2011/12 season in 10th place, five places and five points ahead of Preston North End. This was John Ward’s second season in charge, and his second consecutive 10th place finish, which honestly was no mean achievement. He wasn’t so fortunate in 2012/13, and after starting nine games without a win was sacked in September of that season.
As it is of the era, I will leave you with the August image from my Xmas present calendar that year…
Up the U’s!
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs by wessex_exile
Blogs 29 bloggers
Matches of Yesteryear - Cardiff v U's 11/4/98 by wessex_exile
Here we are then, after a reasonably solid but distinctly dull semi-final first leg lit up by a moment of sheer brilliance by Bramall, just one match away from a socially distanced Wembley play-off final. We may have a slight advantage, but there is of course still much to do, and I can’t imagine for a moment that Exeter will be that shot-shy again at t’other St James’ Park. It’s all about the result though, performance is irrelevant, so I’ll take an even duller 0-0 every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I hope you’re all keeping safe and well, and for those of you blessed with progeny – Happy Father’s Day!
Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 11/11/2000 by wessex_exile
So, after months of uncertainty, here we finally are at the start of a well-deserved play-off campaign. I say well-deserved, though in truth the play-offs ought to have been our minimum aspiration back in August. But sometimes life throws you a curve ball – no one could have predicted back then what the world was going to become, that hundreds of thousands would perish, and that most clubs today are probably fighting for their very existence. In fact, as already mentioned by [b]MFB[/b] and [b]Durham[/b], no one could have predicted that were it not for a stirring 3-0 victory at Carlisle in our last match back in March, we wouldn’t have even been in the play-offs. During lockdown, I have been reassured by the honest and stateman-like announcements from our Chairman keeping us all updated, and never more grateful that we have him looking after the club.
Matches of Yesteryear - Millwall v U's 14/4/99 by wessex_exile
And so here we are, at what would have been the last match of the domestic season, at home to FGR, and almost certainly still in with a shout of making the play-offs – maybe even already guaranteed by now. As I look out this morning, it’s a beautiful sunny day, and I would almost certainly already be on the first leg of a train journey to be amongst the faithful at the Jobserve Community Stadium. Given the location of our opponents, I’d probably be sharing the journey with a few hundred FGR supporters too, but they’ve always been a friendly bunch whenever I’ve met them, so I wouldn’t have been too concerned about that. Instead, we sit and wait to see how and when the season may (or may not) finish – strange times indeed…
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Accrington Stanley 13/1/04 by wessex_exile
Happy Saturday everyone…well, less of the happy actually, with rain falling freely since yesterday afternoon. Still, good weather to be in lockdown for, takes away that feeling that you might be missing out on some quality time outside. In an open letter yesterday to all supporters of EFL clubs, chairman Rick Parry stated “[i]…with or without spectators, delivering a successful conclusion to the 2019/20 season remains our goal to ensure the integrity of our competitions[/i]”. If that can be achieved, it appears almost certain these will be matches behind closed doors, streamed live to all supporters – which inevitably will break the long-held Saturday 3pm blackout for televised matches. We all know why that blackout was in place, but this is a difficult time, and it requires an innovative solution.
Matches of Yesteryear - Swansea v U's 7/3/06 by wessex_exile
Good afternoon everyone, I sincerely hope you’re all doing well, and hopefully not going too cabin-feverish! Today would have been a home match against Oldham Athletic, and after our surely guaranteed epic 3-2 victory at Sixfields on Good Friday, it would be just one more victory needed to guarantee a play-off place…think I might have been out in the sun a bit too much over the last few days 😊