The Greatest Goal I Ever Saw: Preston's Joe Garner vs. Rotheram, Play-Offs 2013/14
Seated behind goal on the Town End, the view is as direct as you can get down the centre of the pitch. This might be the case at any stadium but on this day, Deepdale is electric with play-off anxiety and you are ultimately aware of that invisible line down the centre of the grass and how many goals have been traced over it this season.
You’re one goal down, you’ve not been long back in your seat from half time and you’re wondering; will it ever go right for the Lilywhites? Suddenly, snapping back into the here and now you see from on the right the ball land on Joe Garner’s chest. You know this is special, you know that he’s special, what this means to him and his club and you think in that second second: this is going in.
What you don’t expect is the magical display that the League One super striker delivers. He’s already scored 23 this season, can he make it 24?
Tom Clarke (another new club legend from earlier in the same season where he scored a header in PNE’s 1-0 victory over Blackpool in the League cup) belts a long ball from the halfway line to Garner who is lying in wait, hovering near the D.
With three Rotherham defenders closing in and Garner still 25 yards from goal, the boy flicks the ball with his chest away from two defenders, kicks out to clear the other, turns and delivers the most deadly volley straight past Adam Collin, the Rotherham keeper.
Collin jumps and falls but fails to intercept the speed of Garner’s strike. It’s amazing, it’s beautiful and it put us level with Rotherham United in the first leg of our playoff. This could be the start of something special.
Garner’s turn, his poise, his technique is stunning. It’s an impossibly beautiful goal. He’s almost on his own up front, he’s assisted himself and my, has the boy delivered.
It’s fast and the crowd on the Alan Kelly Town End erupt. I jump onto my seat, as does the girl next to me. We nearly fall over in excitement, catch each other and hug and shout out the Joe Garner chant as the players celebrate at the corner flag.
We lost our away leg and Preston didn’t gain promotion but we were gifted with the greatest goal across all leagues in the 2013/14 season (no bias).
Joe Garner, you little beauty.