Match report: Derby 1 PNE 1

Preston North End left it late - very late - to secure themselves a point against Derby County at Pride Park.

Tuesday, 7th March 2017, 8:54 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:22 am
Tom Barkhuizen scores PNE's late equaliser

The Lilywhites looked to be heading for back-to-back league defeats for the first time since the autumn when Tom Barkhuizen netted an equaliser in the 95th minute.

Chris Maxwell launched a long punt up field, Simon Makienok flicked it on, with the ball dropping over the Rams back line for Barkhuizen to chase.

He reached it at full stretch and got enough on it to lift the ball over goalkeeper Scott Carson, the ball rolling over the line as a defender chased back in vein.

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PNE defender Andy Boyle on his debut with Paul Gallagher

After a decent first-half performance, North End had fallen behind to a 50th minute goal from Matej Vydra.

They lost their way for much of the second half, the Derby goal really knocking the creativity out of them.

But in a late flourish, Paul Huntington saw a header cleared off the line by Cyrus Christie and substitute Daryl Horgan had a shot blocked in the six-yard box.

One last attack paid dividends, Barkhuizen scoring for the second game running to keep PNE hanging on the coat tails of the play-off pack.

Paul Huntington with former PNE striker David Nugent

Simon Grayson had made four changes to the side, Andy Boyle celebrating his 26th birthday with a PNE debut.

The Irishman could look back on a very good first game, with him solid at the back and not putting a foot wrong.

Paul Gallagher, Ben Pearson and Callum Robinson had also gone into the starting XI, with Horgan, Alan Browne, Daniel Johnson and Tommy Spurr making way.

North End started in a 4-4-2, Tom Clarke at right-back, Boyle partnering Paul Huntington in the middle, with Greg Cunningham at left-back.

Aiden McGeady in action against Derby

Derby had the contest's first chance, Christie's cross from the right finding Vydra six yards out, the Czech striker heading over.

Jordan Hugill was inches from giving PNE a sixth-minute lead, meeting a Gallagher cross with a bullet header which just cleared the bar.

A shot from Johnny Russell clipped off Cunningham and looped over Chris Maxwell's bar for a corner, one which Preston cleared out of the box and launched a counter-attack.

Robinson's pass sent Hugill away down the left-wing, his cross into the box about to be met by Aiden McGeady when Carson dived to take it off his head.

PNE defender Andy Boyle on his debut with Paul Gallagher

North End had the ball in the net in the 32nd minute, Gallagher'c cross headed home by Robinson but the flag went up for offside - replays showing that it was a harsh call against the front man.

At the other end, Vydra blazed over the bar after meeting a knock down from former PNE favourite David Nugent.

Three minutes into the second half, McGeady slalomed a couple of challenges before curling a right-foot shot wide of the far post, the chance having shades of the goals he scored against Brentford and QPR.

Derby took the lead in the 50th minute, North End losing possession on the half way which prompted the home side's attack.

Nugent chased a pass down the right channel and cut into the box, his shot striking Huntington and bouncing into the path of Vydra who poked a shot into the net from six yards.

For the next 20-25 minutes, Preston look devoid of ideas and their confidence seemed a bit low.

Paul Huntington with former PNE striker David Nugent

But Horgan, on as substitute for Robinson, gradually began to make an impact, as did Johnson when he replaced Gallagher, with Derby dropping deeper and deeper to hold on to their slender lead.

When Huntington and Horgan were denied at close quarters though, all looked lost.

Barkhuizen had other ideas, his goal sparking wild celebrations among the 436 PNE supporters who had made the trip.

Derby: Carson, Christie, Baird, Pearce, Olsson, Butterfield, Johnson, Russell (Bryson 90) Ince, Vydra (Camara 73), Nugent (Bent 82). Subs (not used): Antya, De Sart, Hughes, Mitchell.

PNE: Maxwell, Clarke, Boyle, Huntington, Cuningham, Barkhuizen, Pearson, Gallagher, (Johnson 73), McGeady, Robinson (Horgan 62), Hugill (Makienok 79). Subs (not used): Browne, Spurr, May, Lindegaard.

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Attendance: 26,301 (436 PNE)

Aiden McGeady in action against Derby