Killa says PNE were unlucky

Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson
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Midfielder Neil Kilkenny believes 10-man PNE should have taken all three points as they lost 1-0 to Leeds United in a controversial clash at Elland Road.

North End keeper Jordan Pickford was shown a straight red card for deliberate handball as he rushed out of the box to try and thwart an on-rushing Chris Wood in the air in the 31st minute.

But post-match video replays confirmed that the ball hit Pickford’s shoulder.

The decision forced PNE boss Simon Grayson – on his first return to the Elland Road dugout since he was fired by Leeds in February 2012– to sacrifce midfielder John Welsh and hand a debut to 17-year-old keeper Matt Hudson.

Hudson impressed and held his own in front of a fiery Leeds crowd but he was beaten by a fluke own goal in the 46th minute as central midfielder Alan Browne tried to clear the ball but accidentally headed the ball backwards and past Hudson.

Grayson was not the only ex-Leeds man retuning to Elland Road.

Kilkenny had a three-year spell at the Yorkshire club after they snapped him up from Oldham for £150,000 in January 2008 andhe replaced the unlucky Browne in the 55th minute.

Kilkenny believes North End deserved more for their performance and said the red card changed the game.

He said: “The sending off made our job hard.

“I was at the other end warming up so I didn’t see the red card incident. But I think it changed the game. If you go down to 10-men, especially at Elland Road, it is obviously going to be a hard game.

“I’ve spent many years here so I know what the crowd can do, they get behind the team and obviously it is hard but I think we put in a good performance in, we dominated the last half hour and we probably should have gone on and won the game it was unlucky that we didn’t get a point or even three.

“Matty has done well and he hasn’t had a save to make so it is just unlucky. It was an unlucky own goal but we will dust ourselves down and move on.”

The 30-year-old helped turn the tide in PNE’s favour as he was able to get the ball on the deck and ensure PNE dominated possesion in the closing stages of the game.

The Australia international was also at the forefront of some of North End’s best attacks in the second 45 as he forced Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri into three good saves.

Kilkenny, who only made his 11th Championship appearance of the season, says he has been frustrated at his lack of match action but that he was glad to get on the pitch against his former club.

He said: “It was nice to have a game really.

“I haven’t played much this season, which is frustrating, but what can you do?

“I will always be there as an option to get the ball and receive the ball. That is my game to get possession and keep possession. I felt I did that at Leeds and I feel like I do that every game.

“In English football you probably need to score goals to get recognised and maybe that is my downfall.

“I had a couple of good opportunities and their keeper made a couple of good saves I shot a few more times. I’ve maybe realised that you have to score goals to get recognised. Maybe I should be a bit more greedy in front of goal to score and maybe I should do that more often.