Dave Seddon's verdict on PNE's defeat at Huddersfield

Simon Grayson's visit to the referee's room after the final whistle was not to exchange chocolate eggs and wish Lee Probert a happy Easter.

Saturday, 15th April 2017, 11:08 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:28 pm
Simon Grayson confronts referee Lee Probert at the final whistle

It was a fuming Preston North End boss who went in to demand an explanation for a penalty decision in stoppage time which denied his side a draw against Huddersfield Town.

Few people in the ground saw what Mr Probert deemed to be an indiscretion from PNE striker Jordan Hugill when he and Elias Kachunga brushed together in the box.

It was off the ball, play was near the half-way line at the time, and down went Kachunga like a sack of spuds – the Wiltshire official somehow deeming it a stamp and push.

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Aiden McGeady celebrates giving Preston the lead

If indeed it was a stamp, why no red card rather than the yellow which was shown?

To rub salt into the wounds, Aaron Mooy’s penalty was well saved by Chris Maxwell but Collin Quaner was first to the rebound to fire home the winner.

The clock had reached the 96th minute by then – what a cruel way for North End to go down to a Good Friday loss.

They had looked to have done enough to earn a point from a contest which swung one way and then the other.

Jordan Hugill after scoring Preston's equaliser

Preston weathered an early storm as the Terriers burst out of the traps, then they silenced the majority of the 21,254 crowd - but sent 1,663 travelling into raptures - by going in front.

That was done in style too, Aiden McGeady pulling the trigger from 20 yards.

Kachunga was to pull the hosts level, seizing on some poor goalkeeping and defending on the stroke of half-time.

When pint-sized substitute Jack Payne sent a diving header into the net in the 71st minute, you sensed only one outcome.

North End's travelling supporters at Huddersfield

But within eight minutes, North End were level, Hugill making the headlines at the right end of the pitch when he met a Tom Barkhuizen cross.

Hugill might have won it with another header which went inches over but then came the late controversy.

Grayson protested as the referee and his team left the pitch, and was invited back for a chat after the 30-minute cooling-off period.

Sat in the press room after that meeting, what Mr Probert told him had clearly done little to lighten his mood.

Ben Pearson and Chris Lowe square-up, both were booked

If leaving empty-handed was not enough, North End played from the 17th minute onwards without skipper Tom Clarke.

It is feared he has torn the Achilles tendon in his right ankle, and they could be without him well into next season.

Tommy Spurr replaced Clarke from the bench, going to left-back with Greg Cunningham going into the centre of defence.

The North End team had shown two changes to the one beaten at Leeds, Hugill and Daniel Johnson restored to the starting XI.

Out of the side went the suspended Alex Baptiste and Callum Robinson, who dropped to the bench.

PNE opened the scoring with their first chance of note in the 24th minute.

Aiden McGeady celebrates giving Preston the lead

Paul Gallagher fed a pass out to McGeady down the right, the on-loan Everton man driving forward and beating his man before firing a right-footed shot into the near top corner over goalkeeper Danny Ward.

Town got a hand with their 43rd-minute equaliser, Mooy’s corner from the left totally missed by Maxwell as he came to claim, Kachunga left unmarked to head home from four yards.

The early stages of the second half were messy, with three PNE players booked in quick succession, one of them Ben Pearson for the 15th time this season which triggers a three-match suspension.

Huddersfield took the lead for the first time in the 71st minute.

Nahki Wells pinged a pass out to Tom Smith on the right-hand side of the box.

Smith shanked his volley, but it fortuitously fell across goal and deflected off a Preston defender into the path of Payne who sent a diving header into the net.

Back came North End and they were level in the 79th minute with a goal scored in front of the travelling fans.

Johnson chased a ball into the box and unable to turn goalwards, picked out a pass to Barkhuizen on the side of the penalty area.

He lifted a right-foot cross into the middle for Hugill to head into the roof of the net from eight yards.

Soon after Hugill might have scored again, meeting a cross from substitute Daryl Horgan but this time putting a header too high.

Step forward Mr Probert to turn the tide of the game back in favour of the hosts.

Down went Kachunga as he walked past Hugill just inside the box with the ball gone.

It took two minutes for the penalty to be taken, Maxwell plunging to his left to parry Mooy's spot kick but substitute Quaner, only on the pitch since the 86th minute, fired in the rebound from the corner of the six-yard box.

The late goal made little difference to PNE's play-off hopes, had they taken a draw the top six would still have been beyond reach.

But not for the first time this season, Grayson's men were left to rue a controversial decision which went against them.

Jordan Hugill after scoring Preston's equaliser
North End's travelling supporters at Huddersfield
Ben Pearson and Chris Lowe square-up, both were booked