A largely undistinguished First Division game was lit up by an extraordinary goal before it blew up in the final minutes with Eyal Berkovic's dismissal.
Preston's transfer-listed striker Jon Macken will remember the match for all the right reasons when, 20 minutes into the second half, he brought down a bouncing ball in the centre circle on his chest, spotted Nicky Weaver off his line and lobbed the goalkeeper from 40 yards.
Any goal from an unfeasible distance these days evokes comparisons with DavidBeckham, who was a couple of years ahead of Macken in making his way through the junior ranks at Manchester United, but this was a goal of superb opportunism, with the player only having a fraction of a second to decide whether to shoot.
"It was one of the better goals I've scored,'' was his matter of fact assessment. "It was an unbelievable goal from Jon,'' said his manager, David Moyes. "Now you see why we value him so highly.''
Macken's remarkable strike completed Preston's comeback after a first half in which they had never seriously threatened and had gone behind to Darren Huckerby's goal eight minutes before the break. Huckerby had already seen an effort disallowed for offside but there was no room for doubt in the way he took Danny Tiatto's through ball in his stride and tucked it past Teuvo Moilanen.
Moyes urged his side to show City less respect after the break and the bold approach soon paid off. Macken played the ball down the wing for Graham Alexander whose cross cried out for the deft touch David Healy gave it for his second goal of the season.
By the time Macken struck, City had become so pedestrian that it was no surprise when Kevin Keegan brought on Berkovic for Ali Benarbia, who had been well policed by Sean Gregan, but the change backfired two minutes from time.
Berkovic slid through a pass for Huckerby, who went down in a tackle from Alexander that only made minimal contact at the most and outside the area. The referee, Mike Dean, waved away the inevitable penalty claims and Berkovic flew into a rage.
''I've asked him what he said and he said nothing,'' reported Keegan. "It's frustrating sometimes for players, but they need to control it.'' If there was any consolation for Keegan it was to be beaten by a goal like Macken's. ''Even as the manager of the opposition you have to say that was special,'' he said.
Preston North End (4-4-2): Moilanen, Alexander, Lucetti, Jackson, Edwards, Cartwright, Rankine, Gregan, McKenna, Macken, Heally (Cresswell, 76). Substitutes not used: Lucas (gk) Anderson, Murdock, Gallacher.
Manchester City (3-5-2): Weaver, Mettomo, Wiekens, Pearce (Dickov 78), Dunne, Benarbia, Berkovic, 73), Etuhu, Tiatto, Granville, Goater, Huckerby (Colosimo, 90). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Horlock.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral)
Bookings: Preston: Gregan; Manchester City: Dunne, Goater. Sending-off: Manchester City: Berkovic
Man of the match: Macken.
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