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These two teams met for the first time on the back of respective defeats, Crewe losing to Watford and Preston to Millwall. So both teams will take some comfort for a share of the spoils in a hugely entertaining match.

Preston were - as usual, without some key players. Inspirational centre-back Andy Cooper was still sidelined, Don Herd was busy busking on the Flag Market, whilst regular keeper Terry the Cat was moonlighting as a children's entertainer at a party.

Manager Pete "The Pieman" Knowles made the shock decision to start himself between the sticks, whilst Mike Gostelow was welcomed back from his latest drunken injury.

Crewe bamboozled the visitors by keeping the ball on the ground - a tactic rarely used by the Whites. They were rewarded after barely a minute, when a pinpoint ball into the box was gleefully rammed home by their centre forward.

The Alex were unlucky not to add to their tally, with Knowles making an excellent tip over the bar and some wild finishing in front of goal.

Preston hadn't troubled the home team when Chris Brennan sent Mark Cassidy sprinting away thirty yards out. CASSIDY held off the centre-half's challenge before hammering the ball into the roof of the net from just inside the area.

The visitor's confidence grew in a dazzling ten-minute spell when Craig Worthington's teasing corner somehow eluded everybody on the goal line, and it was from another Worthington corner that CASSIDY rose like a young salmon and headed North End in front.

Neil Higham was having his best game in a white shirt whilst Chris Reed was throwing his bulky frame into every tackle.

Minutes later Steve Brennan was upended in the box after a fine move, and that ginger-haired maestro WORTHINGTON side-footed the ball into the corner to give the Whites an unbelievable lead.

Crewe came back strongly and dominated the rest of the half, with some poor marking contributing to two conceded goals, the latter coming right on the stroke of half-time. By their own admission the home team were playing as well as they had done this season, and minutes into the second half a long ball sailed over John Hunt's head and a cheeky lob by the forward gave Alex the lead once more.

With Gostelow pushing further forward and Chris Brennan making some probing runs the match was beginning to get very stretched. Andy Watt and Player-Assistant Manager (and domestic goddess) Stewart Black made the entrance just as Big Gay Allan McCormick was going on one of his famous "Headless Chicken" runs.

With half an hour to go Stevie BRENNAN darted past a defender before cutting inside anad curling the ball into the far corner. Almost immediately Preston pushed on, scenting a win, and Worthington's cross was met by Gostelow whose precision header nestled in the back of the net despite the efforts of the goalkeeper.

Crewe pressed again, and the capacity crowd gasped as they levelled the match moments later, a cut back from the right being slotted in at the far post.

With five minutes to go and the drama seemingly at an end, WORTHINGTON cut through a static home defence that appeared to be waiting for a pass, he drew the keeper and coolly stroked it in for a 6-5 advantage. However the cheers turned to tears when, in stoppage time, a corner wasn't cleared and a neat chip ended up beating the two men on the line to level the match for the final time.

It was a breathtaking finish to an enjoyable game, and although Crewe had the greater amount of possession Preston looked devastating on the break. A return fixture will be eagerly anticipated.

Man of the match: Craig Worthington