Dave Seddon's big match verdict
The likelihood of Jordan Hugill scoring in this game was high but perhaps we did not envisage him leaving it so late to find the net.
Opponents Ipswich have spent the transfer window casting admiring glances in Hugill’s direction, firming up that courtship with bids of £1.5m and £2m.
Both offers were rejected by Preston, justifiably in light of the last two games and many more which came before.
Two goals at Aston Villa the week before and then the 89th-minute strike which pegged back Ipswich served only to increase his value both in monetary terms and what he provides on the pitch for the Lilywhites.
The best-case scenario for football’s script writers would have been a Hugill winner.
Instead we had to settle for the next best thing, which was a late point-saver.
Mick McCarthy’s side had tossed the formbook towards the window for the majority of the game, taking an early lead and then sitting deep to hang on to what they had.
Only when North End went 3-4-3 with three strikers and two wingers, were they able to prise open Ipswich’s grip.
Hugill finished smartly on the half-turn from seven yards, a Daryl Horgan cross flicking off Aiden McGeady to create the opening, one which was gratefully received.
Simon Grayson celebrated on the touchline, McCarthy cursed – both recognising the irony in who had scored.
McCarthy said: “When he’d scored I nudged Simon and he said to me, ‘That’s four million quid we want now’.
“It wasn’t the best of crosses at the end and it falls to Hugill. To be fair to the lad he tucked his shot away well.”
Hugill has nine goals to his name this season, eight of them in the Championship and all from open play.
When you see some of the money being thrown around at the moment, it backs up North End’s decision not to have cashed in the moment a seven-figure cheque was waved their way.
The front man’s build-up to this game was conducted in the main on the physio’s bench and in the gym, the legacy of jarring his right knee at Villa.
He trained for the first time on Friday and showed no ill-effects, and was still going strong at the end.
The goal aside, Hugill was one of Preston’s better players in a team performance which was a little off-key.
A super finish from Tom Lawrence had them chasing from early on, this only the third time this season they have got something out of a game they had gone behind in.
The second in that list had been last week at Villa, a sign maybe that North End are learning how to get back into games?
Or you could take the view that this was the second game on the trot they had started poorly, slow starts which need addressing.
Once Ipswich had scored, they dropped deep, got men behind the ball and did what Preston have done to teams this season.
In the first half, it seemed that the hosts were looking to McGeady at every turn to make something happen.
A number of times he drove down the left-hand side but with little on around him, was forced to shoot from long range.
Two occasions in the first half when the movement ahead of him was better, McGeady’s crosses led to close calls.
The first was headed over by Hugill, a second met on the volley by Ben Pearson, one which struck Hugill on the backside and went wide.
The arrival of Daryl Horgan from the bench before the hour, livened PNE up and took some of the burden off McGeady.
Grayson used his subs well, Jermaine Beckford and Great Dane Simon Makienok thrown into the fray as the second period went on.
For the last quarter of an hour, they formed a three-man attack with Hugill.
It was caution to the wind time for the final 13 minutes, right-back Marnick Vermijl sacrificed so that Makienok could join the fray.
There was nothing to lose with such boldness and it was to pay dividends.
Pearson’s return after his two-match ban at the expense of Alan Browne, was the only change to the side which had started against Villa.
North End had a couple of early chances but fell behind in the 16th minute.
While you had to admire the quality of the finish, it could have nipped in the bud.
LAWRENCE got the ball on the left wing and cut inside, going first past Paul Gallagher and then Vermijl.
He struck a right-foot shot over Chris Maxwell and into the far corner.
Preston had plenty of the ball after that but struggled to make real inroads through the Ipswich defence.
There was a good opening for them early in the second half, Gallagher’s floated cross finding Callum Robinson in the box.
He chested it down but was to scuff his shot at the keeper as a challenge came in from behind.
Robinson made way for Horgan and perhaps it is time for him to have a breather.
The substitutions helped to stretch the game, North End finding more room down both wings.
Two chances came in quick succession, McGeady’s drilled shot saved well by keeper Bartosz Bialkowski diving to his left.
A McGeady cross was met by Tom Clarke at the far post, the skipper’s header flicking off Luke Chambers and going over the bar.
Beckford had a shot blocked after Tommy Spurr’s cross had been spilled by the keeper.
McGeady started the ball rolling for Preston’s equaliser, feeding a pass out to Horgan on the right wing.
Horgan worked the ball on to his left foot and put in a cross which flicked off McGeady, who had continued his run.
The ball carried over the Ipswich back line and into HUGILL, who chested it down and fired home right-footed from seven yards.
Against a team below them in the table, a home draw was two points dropped.
But the lateness of the equaliser meant it did not feel like that.