PRESTON 5 BIRMINGHAM 0
A North End Supporters FC achieved
their first win of the season in fine style after defeating their
highly-rated Midlands opponents.
In a dramatic reversal of fortune, Preston actually had 15 men
to select their team from, but as is now customary, there were
one or two who were absent. In particular, regulars Neil Higham,
Mike Gostelow and Andy Whaley were unavailable; Neil was detained
at Her Majesty's Pleasure after an incident with a cucumber and
a tramp, Mike was injured but still managed to disembowel himself
on a set of traffic lights the night before, and Andy had got
lost in the eastern wing of his 53-bedroom mansion and hadn't
been seen for days.
However the Whites welcomed back long-term absentee Andy Cooper
after his successful toe transplant, wayward genius Iain Baggley,
and Terry "The Cat" Quinn between the sticks. There
were also debuts for new signings Kevin Saint, and Irish starlet
Chris Farrelly, who was only eligible to play after his visa application
was faxed through at the last minute.
On a windswept Astroturf and with the wind in their favour, North
End attacked the Railway End in the first half, and provided a
25-minte spell of devastating one-touch football. The Blues' goal
had had a couple of narrow escapes when hotshot Steve Brennan
had gone close and Farrelly had pulled his shot wide.
However after 10 minutes the deadlock was broken. A neat interchange
between Mark Cassidy and Farrelly on the edge of the box resulted
in a shooting opportunity for BRENNAN, who dispatched the
ball with aplomb. The part-time DJ superstar had kept up his sensational
record of scoring in all PNE's matches this term.
Within seconds of the restart Brennan was at it again, playing
a one-two with Cassidy, who tried to chip the keeper despite being
in the 6-yard box, and his lob was tipped over.
With both Baggley and Chris Brennan providing plenty of width,
a fantastic sweeping move led to goal number two. No less than
five players were involved as the ball was teed-up on the periphery
of the penalty area for BAGGLEY, who drilled his shot into
the corner of the net.
By now the gaps in the visitor's midfield were opening, and the
North End central quartet attacked at will. Both Saint and Craig
Worthington went close from distance. Meanwhile at the other end,
the central pairing of Cooper and Don Herd were in a commanding
mood, ably assisted by Saint and Rob Cick, so much so that Quinn
was reduced to being a spectator. Both full-backs looked comfortable
on the ball and delivered telling passes during the scintillating
A range of substitutions disturbed the flow a little, especially
when assistant-manager Stewart Black brought himself on and then
took himself off within a matter of five minutes. Perhaps he wanted
another of his U-bend blocking dumps.
The second-half saw North End take control again, with more space
opening behind the Birmingham defence. Chris Brennan saw a good
chance go wide and then created an opportunity for Worthington,
but dogged defending saved the day. It wasn't until the hour mark
that the Whites all but wrapped-up the points, when a wonderful
ball from the right by Worthington was slotted home at the near
post by CASSIDY.
City began to carve out some good chances of their own, and but
for some wayward shooting from inside the box on a couple of occasions,
they could have reduced the arrears. However their day was summed
up when the ball broke on the edge of the area only for a midfielder
to plant the ball over the bar, over the 6m-high fence and onto
the railway line, where the 11.23 to Blackpool North was derailed.
Rolling substitutions came and went, with Karl Brown, Andy Watt
and Alan McCormick all having a significant taste of the action.
These fresh legs made the difference in the last quarter, as a
defence-splitting ball sent "Supersub" MCCORMICK
clear of the last man. The centre-half, playing in the unusual
role of right-winger, displayed all the coolness of a leg of lamb
in the freezer as he picked his spot in the far corner to earn
his second goal of the season from the bench, and make it 4-0.
Andy Watt, playing on the opposite flank, also shook off his marker
on three occasions, but his first effort grazed the post, his
second effort went wide and his final shot was blocked by the
excellent City keeper.
At the other end City were denied a good penalty appeal by referee
Knowles, who suggested that he was unsighted due to Watt's ample
Baggley and Cooper both went close, but the best was saved for
last as WORTHINGTON went on a mazy run down the left, before
cutting inside and placing the ball through the keeper's legs.
The final whistle was greeted with jubilation from the massed
ranks of home fans, and the hope of a similar display in at least
one more fixture this season.
Man of the match: Chris Farrelly