Memory match: Crawley v PNE

Goalscorer Paul Huntington (right) gets high-fived by Scott Laird at Crawley last season

Goalscorer Paul Huntington (right) gets high-fived by Scott Laird at Crawley last season

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Preston North End play only their third game at Crawley’s Broadfield Stadium this weekend, the previous two ending in a defeat and a draw.

Last season’s visit to West Sussex in December 2013, saw them surrender a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2.

So they will be hoping that the forthcoming trip will be a more successful one as they search for their first League One victory of 2015.

North End were out of the traps quickly in last term’s clash, two goals to the good inside 16 minutes.

But in the second half they were pinned back by their hosts, who netted an equaliser in stoppage time.

Simon Grayson’s men had gone there with five successive victories under their belts.

It looked like No.6 was on its way as they started with a real urgency and tempo. They went ahead in the ninth minute after Stuart Beavon had forced a corner on the right.

Scott Laird bent in the 
flag-kick left-footed, centre-half Paul Huntington steaming in to meet it and power a header into the roof of the net from six yards.

Things got even better for North End in the 16th minute as they doubled their advantage.

John Welsh and Beavon swapped passes near to the centre circle, Welsh then threading a fine ball through the Reds’ defence.

Josh Brownhill raced clear on to it, the midfielder managing to hold off the attentions of a defender before chipping an inch-perfect finish over keeper Paul Jones.

It was the teenager’s second goal for Preston, having netted on his full debut two months earlier against Gillingham at Priestfield Stadium.

With Crawley at this stage all over the place, North End looked for a third goal.

Laird broke down the 
left-hand side of the box and saw his shot clip off a defender and behind for a corner.

Then Tom Clarke put a header wide after getting up high to meet a corner from Welsh.

Just before the interval, Laird drove a shot just over the bar, Beavon having found him with a clever pass.

Both sides created chances in the opening few minutes of the second period.

Reds front man Gary Alexander put a header over the bar from Adam Drury’s left-wing cross.

Then, in the next phase of play, Brownhill saw a shot from distance held at the second attempt by Jones.

Crawley’s fightback began in earnest with 65 minutes on the clock, a good spell of pressure paying dividends with a goal which halved the deficit.

Nicky Adams lifted a free-kick into the box, Mark Connolly’s header going over PNE keeper Declan Rudd and hitting the bar.

When the ball bounced back into play, Joe Walsh was the quickest to react to slam it into the net.

The warning signs of an equaliser were there when Alexander got the ball over the line, only to see it chalked out for offside.

In the 88th minute, Walsh struck the post with a shot before Crawley levelled as the game moved into stoppage time.

From a corner, Adams found Alexander who steered in a close-range header.