Retro Match: Preston North End vs. Manchester City, February 2007


Pep Guardiola will bring his multi-million-pound Manchester City squad to a packed Deepdale on Tuesday night for a League Cup tie, so what better time to have a look at the last time these two sides met?

This also happened to be a cup tie, North End hosting City in the F.A Cup fifth round on February 18th, 2007. The game ended in a 3-1 win for the Cityzens who were then managed by former England left-back Stuart Pearce. The sides were in the same leagues they are in currently, City in the top flight of English football with North End in the second tier.

The City side that arrived at Deepdale was nowhere near as dominant as they are today under Guardiola, Stuart Pearce’s side going on to finish a lowly 14th at the end of the 2006/07 league season.

With a place in the last eight up for grabs, North End, who at that point were well in the race for promotion, must have fancied their chances against an out-of-form City side. A crowd of 18,890 were in attendance and it was a dream start for the majority of them as The Lilywhites took the lead, with two England one cap wonders playing a part in the opening goal.

A then 21-year-old David Nugent bundled in his 14th of the season in the eighth minute after keeper Nicky Weaver had originally kept out a Michael Ricketts header. Ricketts, who had been brought in from Southend, then missed a key chance fluffing his lines when one on one with Weaver.

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Nugent, who is in contention to make his second Preston North End debut in the fixture on Tuesday, a whole 12 years since he first left the club, missed a half-chance as North End piled on the pressure. But they failed to make it pay and were hit with a sucker punch, Sky Blues left-back Michael Ball powerfully finishing the ball in off the post past Andy Lonergan to level the scores going into the break.

The second half was a very tight affair with very little to choose between the two sides and it looked like Preston, managed by former City player Paul Simpson, had earned a replay at the City of Manchester Stadium (now the Etihad). But it wasn’t to be, with two late goals ending the dream of furthering the cup run.

The influential Ball also had a part to play in the second goal in the 85th minute, his long throw causing problems in the Preston defence before the ball fell to Greek striker Georgios Samaras. His turn and shot deflected off Liam Chilvers and then dribbled in off an unfortunate Matt Hill.

Preston brought on former Liverpool front man Neil Mellor in the hope of rescuing the tie in the last 5 minutes, but as they went for broke a fantastic Stephen Ireland volley finished the tie in the 90th minute, the Irishman striking it into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

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The goal sent the visiting City fans behind the goal into raptures and Pearce’s side went into the quarter-finals, where they would eventually lose 2-0 against Mark Hughes’s Blackburn Rovers.

Preston’s season also finished in late heartbreak that year, missing out on the playoffs by a single point and place when they ended up finishing in seventh position. They had topped the table at the start of December but two wins in their last seven meant they were pipped to the post by Southampton.

The two sides that day were as follows:

Preston: Lonergan; Alexander, Soley, Chilvers, Hill; Whaley, Sedgwick, McKenna, Pugh; Nugent, Ricketts.

Subs: Nash, St. Ledger, Pergl, Mellor, Agyemang.

Man City: Weaver; Richards, Dunne, Distin, Ball; Trabelsi, Barton, Dabo, Ireland; Corradi, Samaras.

Subs: Isaksson, Jihai, Hamann, Beasley, Sturridge.