Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Three memorable PNE v Birmingham matches, including a classic Rankine goal

Preston North End travel to Birmingham City on Saturday as they look to extend their seven game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Lee Bowyer has made a decent start to life as manager of The Blues and they have a strong squad now.

Preston have enjoyed trips to St Andrews in the past and they look set to be backed by over 1,000 fans again this time. The two sides have been predominant fixtures in the second division this century so there are plenty of games to look back on.

I’ve picked out three that stand out for all the right reasons for Preston fans. So no inclusion of that game where Declan Rudd let the ball through his legs after a clearance from Maikel Kieftenbeld.

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Birmingham City 1-3 Preston North End, 16 September 2017

Alex Neil’s first season in charge of Preston North End saw a new style of play. The Lilywhites pressed high up the pitch and Jordan Hugill was in peak form for us. He only had four months left at the club, but had started this season well. Preston were 1-0 down at half time but the second half saw a huge turnaround.

Neil’s side managed to find the back of the net three times in the second half and they were all well worked team goals. Hugill along with Daniel Johnson, and Tom Barkhuizen all scored within 11 minutes. DJ has always enjoyed the games against Birmingham being a former Aston Villa player.

This game showed Alex Neil was about to bring exciting times back to Deepdale and it went on to be a great season in the end, just missing out on the play-offs.

Photo by Mick Walker – CameraSport via Getty Images

Birmingham City 1-2 Preston North End, 25 April 2009

A Saturday evening kick off live on Sky Sports. The cameras were there as Birmingham were expected to seal promotion back to the top flight under Alex McLeish. Preston still had an outside chance of reaching the play-offs in Alan Irvine’s first season in charge, but they had to win this game.

Birmingham took the lead in the 57th minute through Keith Fahey and it looked like Preston’s season would come to an end. Lee Bowyer and Lee Williamson were sent off for a scuffle which left both teams with 10 men.

Now, Paul McKenna didn’t score too many for his hometown club, but when he did they were usually screamers. The captain dragged Preston back into the match with a long range beauty. One more goal was needed, and when Preston were awarded a free kick around 30 yards from goal, there was only one man for it that season. Up stepped Ross Wallace.

It almost seemed like slow motion, as the Scotsman’s free kick flew into the net, sending the away end and everyone watching in pubs up and down Preston into delirious scenes. Unfortunately Wallace was very exuberant with his celebrations as well, taking his shirt off and receiving a second yellow card.

Preston would go on to seal a place in the play-offs beating Queens Park Rangers in dramatic circumstances on the last day. However they would unfortunately fall short in the semi-finals losing to Sheffield United.

17 May 2001: Preston celebrate after the Nationwide League Division One Play Off Semi-final Second Leg between Preston North End and Birmingham City at the Deapdale, Preston. Digital Image. Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird/ALLSPORT

Preston North End 2-1 Birmingham City, 17 May 2001

This will go down as one of the most memorable games for any North End fan lucky to have been there. I was only 8 years old, but still have vivid images of this day. Preston had just been promoted with David Moyes from Division Two the year before, and took to life in Division One with ease.

After finishing fourth, they faced The Blues in the play-offs. A 1-0 first leg victory gave Birmingham the advantage, but under the lights at Deepdale, anything is possible.

It was an end to end game, with chances aplenty for both sides. David Healy scored which made things all square on aggregate. However Geoff Horsfield gave Birmingham the lead again midway through the second half.

You could cut the tension with a knife inside Deepdale as the fans urged the team to extend this amazing season for a bit longer. In the end the goal came from a very unlikely source. Mark Rankine, a fan favourite applied the finish in the last minute. It came just after Stan Lazaridis had a golden opportunity to score for Birmingham has his shot ambled across the goal.

It just stayed out and Rob Edwards took the ball upfield, choosing not to just lump it forward in desperation. It led to Jonathan Macken and David Healy combining before the latter’s shot was palmed away by Ian Bennett. Mark Rankine was on hand to stab it home and the atmosphere was electric.

Penalties followed and after some heroics from David Lucas, Paul McKenna stepped up to score the winning penalty. What a night.

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