PNE 1, Newcastle 2: Dave Seddon’s big-match verdict

Preston's Jermaine Beckford celebrates scoring against Newcastle
Preston's Jermaine Beckford celebrates scoring against Newcastle
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I doubt there are too many people with a ‘PR’ postcode who have a good word for referee Chris Kavanagh after events of the last few days.

David Moyes – still a resident of this parish – was banished to the stand by Mr Kavanagh during Sunderland’s defeat at Southampton for taking a protest too far when his side were denied a penalty.

Aleksander Mitrovic scores the first goal for Newcastle

Aleksander Mitrovic scores the first goal for Newcastle

Three days later, it was the turn of his old club Preston to be put through the wringer by the Select Group 2 official.

Twice in the second-half of this high octane clash with league leaders Newcastle, the Lilywhites saw two clear-cut penalties denied.

The Manchester referee shook his head when Callum Robinson got a shove in the back, the appeal sandwiched between the visitors’ two goals in the second half.

If that one did not register with Mr Kavanagh, goodness knows how he turned down the second one.

Aleksander Mitrovic (left) grabs what turns out to be the winning goal for Newcastle

Aleksander Mitrovic (left) grabs what turns out to be the winning goal for Newcastle

That came late, actually very late, in stoppage-time, Jermaine Beckford bundled over from behind by Grant Hanley.

Nothing doing was again the signal from the man in the middle, to the astonishment of three sides of Deepdale.

After the ground emptied, the two referee assessors were still sat in the directors’ box, tapping away on an Ipad.

There was certainly much for Mike Pike and Chris Foy to take note of and discuss with Mr Kavanagh in their post-match de-brief.

The penalty shouts were genuine, not a desperate last throw of the dice by a team sinking without trace.

No one could deny that North End deserved a draw out of the contest – if they are honest, the 5,661 travelling Geordies will have filed out of the Kop admitting to being slightly fortuitous to be heading home with three points.

For all but a 20 minute spell in the second half, I felt Preston edged it.

They were the better side in the first half and started well in the second period.

Fair play to Newcastle, they took their chances, both goals – 12 minutes apart – coming from Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The Magpies had their tails up in that spell, with them able to play on the break as North End went in search of parity.

But once the home side regained their composure, they piled the pressure.

Beckford – or was it visiting skipper Jamaal Lascelles? – put the ball in the Newcastle net in the 90th minute to set up a grandstand finish.

Six minutes of added-on time was signalled, events early in that period stretching the additional time to 10 minutes.

It was right at the end that Beckford was clattered by Hanley.

As the game went on amid the protests, an overhead kick from substitute Marnick Vermijl struck the foot of the post.

That is how close North End came to salvaging a point and maintaining their good record against the top teams.

An unsavoury moment during stoppage-time was the coin throwing from the Town End.

Some fool chose to empty their pocket of loose change and hurl it in the direction of Deanadre Yedlin.

The Magpies defender was being bandaged up behind the goal after a clash of heads with Simon Makienok.

The coins might not have done any damage physically but what will the incident have done to the reputation of PNE in the eyes of others?

Back to matters on the pitch and a discussion to be had is how much better North End were on Saturday than they had been on Tyneside last week in the League Cup mauling by the Magpies.

It was a much different side, with nine changes in all as Simon Grayson reverted back to the team which had beaten Norwich.

Had Grayson gone with a similar side at St James’ Park, would they be sat pretty in the last eight of the cup?

Countering that, would North End have put in such an energetic performance as they did on Saturday had the majority played five days earlier?

Had they pulled back to 2-2 either from the penalty spot or with Vermijl’s acrobatics, would the rotation decision have been justified?

As it happened, the result brought to an end Grayson’s men six-game unbeaten run in the Championship.

Seven points from the 12 on offer against Brighton, Huddersfield, Norwich and Newcastle, is a good return in anyone’s book.

An interesting statistic from this contest came in the amount of possession which North End had.

Often they are content to let the other team see more of the ball, albeit in areas which aren’t going to hurt them.

Against Newcastle though, it was 55%-45% possession in their favour.

That time with the ball saw them create chances in the first half, Bailey Wright and Paul Gallagher going close.

The game swung the way of the Magpies just before the hour, Matt Ritchie’s diagonal ball coming off the head of Greg Cunningham who had been drawn in field.

It fell to MITROVIC in the box who drilled a low shot into the far bottom corner.

Newcastle made it 2-0 in the 71st minute, Yedlin given too much time to put over a cross – MITROVIC getting half a yard on Tom Clarke to get his head to it.

Chris Maxwell couldn’t hold it and the Serbia striker poked home the loose ball.

The deficit was halved as Cunningham’s low cross was sliced in at the near post by Lascelles as he tried to clear, Beckford in close attendance.

An equaliser eluded them, not for the want of trying.

Ratings

Chris Maxwell 6

Did not have too much to do in terms of saves, although should have done better with the second goal

Alex Baptiste 7

Steady performance at right-back and covered well when he stepped across to help out his centre-halves

Tom Clarke 8

Performed well and had a good tussle with Mitrovic. Slight mistake for the second goal in terms of positioning

Bailey Wright 7

The centre-half kept a solid line at the back and in general helped to limit the Newcastle attack

Greg Cunningham 7

Was unfortunate with the first goal when the ball came off his head to play in Mitrovic. He set up PNE’s late goal

Ben pringle 6

Drifted in and out of the game, showed a nice touch to play in Robinson in the first half

Ben Pearson 8

Went toe-to-toe with Shelvey and won that personal battle. Was PNE’s driving force from midfield

Daniel Johnson 7

DJ provided plenty of energy in the engine room, pushing forward as the hosts took the game to the visitors

Paul Gallagher 6

His set-piece delivery was not quite as accurate as it has been recently. Still saw plenty of the ball

Callum Robinson 7

Had some good moments playing up front, should have had a penalty when pushed in the second half

Jordan Hugill 7

Worked hard against Newcastle’s two centre-halves without getting much in the way of chances

subs used

Jermaine Beckford 7

Joined the action in the 72nd minute and was credited with the PNE goal. Denied a clear-cut penalty right at the death

Simon Makienok 7

Put on for he height as Preston went more direct in the closing stages, caused a few problems for the visitors

Marnick Vermijl 7

Hit the post with an overhead kick with the last kick of the game – imagine if that had gone in?

subs not used

Eoin Doyle, Paul Huntington, Tommy Spurr, Anders Lindegaard

Newcastle

Darlow, Yedlin (Hanley 90), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Hayden, Ritchie (Atsu 90), Diame, Gouffran, Mitrovic (Perez 86). Subs (not used): Lazaar, Anita, Gamez, Sels.

referee

Chris Kavanagh5

ATTENDANCE

20,724 (5,661 away)