Brighton 2, Preston North End 2: Dave Seddon's verdict
A whiff of sea air from the English Channel seems to bring the best out of Preston North End front man Simon Makienok.
The Great Dane used his tall frame to the maximum to head PNE’s stoppage-time equaliser against Brighton.
Further along the south coast at Bournemouth last month, Makienok had opened his North End account with a hat-trick.
Quite why he has a liking for that particular area of the country, I don’t know.
What mattered was his goal earned Preston a point which maybe they did not deserve on the pattern of play but perhaps did as a reward for keeping going until the very end.
The travelling 575 PNE supporters cared little as to whether or not the draw was merited, their celebrations at the end of the ground where Makienok scored, joyous to say the least.
It was reward for making the longest league journey of the season – a 562-mile round trip, hindered for some by a lorry catching fire on the M25 on the way down.
Makienok was the last throw of Preston’s dice as far as making substitutions was concerned.
He joined the action in the 78th minute, following on from Paul Gallagher and Ben Pringle’s introduction.
Ironically, the fact all three subs had been used was cursed when John Welsh pulled up with a calf strain with North End still trailing.
It meant soldiering on with 10 men for the last three minutes of the regulation 90 and whatever referee Craig Pawson chose to add on.
The last time they went a man down in this way, PNE crumbled and were beaten 5-0 at Brentford.
No such repeat this time – lessons had clearly been learned.
Instead, they kept a solid shape, combining it with the task of attempting to find a gap in the Seagulls back line in order to score an equaliser.
Such a route was found in relatively straight-forward circumstances.
Gallagher lifted a ball into the box from a deep midfield position, Makienok among four players at the back post and the one who rose highest to guide a header across goal and into the far corner.
In doing so, he stretched North End’s unbeaten run to a fifth game.
Brighton will feel they should have got more out of the game.
They had the lions’ share of possession and chances, and for a spell in the second half had the visitors pinned back.
But of their 22 shots, only three were on target – the two goals and a first-half effort from Glenn Murray which struck Chris Maxwell on the foot.
Preston were more ruthless, tucking away two of their four opportunities.
A piece of opportunism from Jordan Hugill opened the scoring early on.
Sandwiched between that and Makienok’s leveller were the two Albion goals, scored 11 minutes apart and for quite a while, looking like being enough to secure victory for the hosts.
At times, the game was tough going for Preston, that to be expected against a Brighton side who from an attacking point of view, look the business.
Anthony Knockaert and Jamie Murphy were constant threats down the wings.
Lancashire-born Oliver Norwood provided creativity in midfield, and up front, Sam Baldock and Murray showed good movement.
North End set-up 3-5-2 against them to start with, a recalled Paul Huntington at the heart of the back three with Tom Clarke and Alex Baptiste either side of him.
Huntington got the nod for his second league start of the campaign, preferred to Bailey Wright who had only flown in from international duty with Australia late on Thursday.
I thought he did rather well, up against his fellow Cumbrian Murray, no thrills, just solid and organised.
The 3-5-2 was changed to 4-1-4-1 at the interval, Simon Grayson reasoning that too many gaps were being found between the centre-halves and wing-backs.
For me, that brought more pressure on North End, both Brighton goals coming after the switch to a flat back four.
Saying that, persevering with the back four and going 4-4-2 after Makienok came on and then 4-3-2 following the departure of Welsh, brought its rewards.
Formation and tactics had faded into the background earlier in the afternoon as applause rang around the ground in memory of PNE fan Dylan Crossey, 15, who lost his life in a road traffic accident the previous weekend.
A photograph of Dylan was displayed on the big screens at either end of the stadium in the 15th minute, a fantastic gesture from Brighton.
Hugill’s improvement as a player at Championship level, reached another notch when opening the scoring in the 10th minute.
Brighton skipper Bruno lobbed a back pass towards David Stockdale, one which the keeper could not control properly on his chest.
The ball bounced out of the box and ran to HUGILL who had the presence of mind to shift it inside before lifting a shot into the net from 15 yards.
Brighton levelled in the 54th minute, Bruno’s low cross turned home by BALDOCK.
They then took the lead 11 minutes later, Murphy’s pass finding MURRAY who turned Baptiste and fired home.
Cue the big moment for MAKIENOK, time seeming to stand still as the ball left his head and travelled into the far corner, Stockdale rooted to the spot.
That did nicely for North End at the American Express Community Stadium.
TEAM RATINGSChris Maxwell 6
Little chance with the two Brighton goals, kicking was decent but did rush from his box a couple of times when not needed.
Tom Clarke 7
The skipper started in a three-man defence and then moved to right-back for the second half. Decent display.
Paul Huntington 8
Very solid performance on his return to the starting XI. Played well against two very good strikers.
Alex Baptiste 6
Turned a bit too easily by Glenn Murray for Brighton’s second goal. Looked better in a three-man defence than a two.
Chris Humphrey 6
Did the defensive side of his wing-back duties well although not too much seen of him going forward.
John Welsh 7
Usual no-nonense performance from the midfielder before limping off, put in a couple of timely tackles in key areas.
Ben Pearson 7
Another energetic display, had more to do defensively as the home side pressed but pushed forward when allowed.
Daniel Johnson 7
Had more attacking responsibility than his two midfield colleagues and used his pace well on the break.
Tommy Spurr 7
Back in the side after more than a month out, he performed well at wing-back and then left-back.
Callum Robinson 6
Started up front before going to the left-wing, he didn’t quite impact the game like he normally does.
Jordan Hugill 8
Scored the first goal and went on to put in a powerful display, keeping Albion defenders Duffy and Dunk occupied
Paul Gallagher 7
Introduced in the 70th minute and went on to set-up the late equaliser with a ball into the box.
Ben Pringle 7
One-half of the double substitution with Gallagher. Showed some nice touches and his arrival provided fresh legs.
Simon Makienok 7
The Great Dane popped up in the right place to head PNE’s 92nd minute equaliser. What an impact!
subs not used
Bailey Wright, Alan Browne, Eoin Doyle, Anders Lindegaard
Stockdale, Bruno, Dunk, Diffy, Bong, Knockaert, Sidwell, Horwood, Murphy, Baldock (Stephens 81), Murray. Subs (not used): Skalak, Pocognoli, Goldson, Manu, Ince, Maenpaa.
27,606 (575 pNE)