Late goal was cruel says PNE boss

Adam Reach fires Sheffield Wednesday's late equaliser against PNE
Adam Reach fires Sheffield Wednesday's late equaliser against PNE
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson felt his side could count themselves very unfortunate not to have beaten Sheffield Wednesday at Deepdale.

Grayson's men looked set for a deserved victory after Greg Cunningham's cross deflected in off Owls midfielder Sam Hutchinson 13 minutes from time.

But with almost the last kick of the contest, former PNE loan player Adam Reach hit Wednesday's equaliser.

It was hard for Grayson to take and he said North End had deserved all three points.

Grayson said: "When the opposition score so late in a game it is obviously very difficult to take.

"But with the way we played and how we dominated the game, we can be very proud of our performance without having got the result we deserved.

"That happens in football sometimes and our players played very well today.

"We made a very good team in Sheffield Wednesday look very average, their coach has stated how well we played and that they shouldn't have got anything out of it.

"The biggest thing was that our players reacted to a disappointing result and performance on Boxing Day."

North End twice had the ball in the net - those ruled out due to offside and a foul respectively - before Cunningham's cross was deflected home.

Aiden McGeady hit the post soon after with a shot from 25 yards.

Then Reach came back to haunt them, the winger having spent most of last season on loan at North End from Middlesbrough.

PNE were interested in bringing him back in the summer but Wednesday signed him for an initial £5m, the fee eventually set to rise to £7m.

Said Grayson: "It fell to Adam, he has swung his right foot at it and it has flown in to be fair.

"We just couldn't get it cleared, we had enough bodies back there and couldn't get one good clearance on the ball.

"It was the last kick of the game basically so if we had cleared it, we would have been game over.

"That was not a nice way to finish the game and 2016 but there are a lot of positives we can take out of the game.

"I've told the players to be disappointed by the result but not with the performance.

"They cannot dwell on it because they have a game to get ready for against Burton on Monday.

"We had some good chances to get a second and third goal, we were dominant and so comfortable.

"Chris Maxwell did not have a shot to save, Wednesday didn't have a shot on target until they scored."

Bailey Wright was absent from the match day squad, leading to speculation that he could be close to leaving North End.

However, Grayson said that the Australia international remains in his plans and would be considered for selection on Monday.

Asked if his absence spelt the end for Wright at Deepdale, Grayson said: "That is not the case whatsoever.

"There were players in the 18 today who won't play on Monday because of the timescale.

"We had a strong squad available, Paul Gallagher and Aiden McGeady came back.

"In defence, we had the option of Alex Baptiste going to centre-half with Marnick Vermijl on the bench.

"Bailey Wright is still part of the group, still part of this football club and certainly in consideration for Monday's game.

"There is nothing to read into it."

Grayson told reporters that defender Ben Davies would be going out on loan on Monday.

During the afternoon, Hibernian announced they had signed Chris Humphrey who cancelled his contract with North End by mutual consent on Friday.

Humphrey has agreed a deal with the Scottish Championship outfit until the end of the season.