Match report: PNE 1 Nottingham Forest 1

Aiden McGeady earned Preston North End a point with a second-half equaliser against Nottingham Forest at Deepdale.

Saturday, 1st April 2017, 5:03 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:29 pm
PNE v Nottingham Forest

McGeady struck from the edge of the box seven minutes after the interval after being teed-up by substitute Callum Robinson.

His sixth goal for the club brought North End level after Britt Assombalonga had run clear to put Forest ahead in the 22nd minute.

The home side had started well, having four sights of goal in the opening 11 minutes.

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But Forest went on to have the better of the first half before a half-time switch of personnel and formation got Preston going again.

The draw lifted them up to eighth place but they are now six points off the top-six place - Fulham's win at Rotherham lifting the Cottagers into the play-off place ahead of Sheffield Wednesday.

Simon Grayson had made one change to the starting XI, Paul Gallagher taking the place of Daniel Johnson in midfield - DJ not involved in the squad for family reasons.

There was a return for Alex Baptiste on the bench, the defender having been ruled out since the start of January with a knee ligament injury.

Stevie May also got a place among the substitutes instead of Simon Makienok.

North End's bright start was no indication of how Forest would go on to have the better of the first half.

With just 45 seconds on the clock, McGeady's run and pass created room for Gallagher to shoot from the edge of the box, his effort catching a deflection and dropping over the bar.

In the fifth minute, Barkhuizen chased a ball down the right channel and got ahead of the visitors' back line despite starting well behind them.

His touch took him slightly wide in the box but he got away a low shot which Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith got down to save.

Soon after, Jordan Hugill cut inside from the left and his right curled just over the angle of bar and far post.

Daryl Horgan's shot from the edge of the box was taken wide of the target by a deflection.

Forest began to work their way into the contest, Ben Osborn's looping header dropping over while a Chris Cohen header was held by Chris Maxwell close to the line.

The visitors took the lead in the 22nd minute, Zach Clough's pass playing Assombalonga in behind PNE's defence, the striker running through and shooting low past Maxwell.

Taking confidence from the goal, they went on to have the better of the first half.

That said; North End almost found an equaliser when Hugill's cross from the right was spilled by Smith, McGeady slipped as he moved towards the lose ball and then it was cleared from the path of Horgan.

David Vaughan forced a routine save out of Maxwell with a shot from the edge of the box, then teenager Ben Brereton went close to netting a fine individual goal.

Picking the ball up in a deep position, he used the decoy run of Assombalonga to bear down on the box and through the North End defence.

The 17-year-old got a low shot off which Maxwell saved well with his legs.

Preston made a double change at the break, Robinson and Baptiste replacing Horgan and Andy Boyle.

They switched to a 3-4-1-2 and it paid quick dividends.

Barkhuizen had already sent a 25-yard drive inches over the bar when North End levelled in the 52nd minute.

Robinson got the ball on the left, beating his man down before squaring a pass inside to McGeady in the 'D' on the edge of the box.

McGeady took a couple of touches to work himself into a shooting position before firing low into the bottom corner.

With an hour played, Gallagher was tripped on the edge of the box but referee Darren Bond waved play-on when it looked like he should have given a free-kick.

Gallagher set up a chance on the break in the 69th minute, sliding to intercept a Forest pass deep in his own half and sending a fine pass up field to find Robinson, the substitute turning to run towards goal and hitting a shot which Smith dived to save.

Three minutes later, Ben Pearson's cross from the right was met by Hugill in the middle, his header back across goal saved by Smith diving to his left.

As the game entered its last five minutes, Tom Clarke got on the end of a McGeady free-kick but headed high over the bar.

North End survived a late bit of pressure from Forest, the visitors awarded a free-kick in stoppage-time after Pearson pulled back substitute Matty Cash, earning a 14th yellow card of the season.

Osborn didn't trouble Maxwell with the set-piece, curling it well over the bar.

PNE: Maxwell, Clarke, Huntington, Boyle (Baptiste 46), Cunningham, Horgan (Robinson 46), Pearson, Gallagher (Browne 84) McGeady, Barkhuizen, Hugill. Subs (not used): Beckford, Spurr, May, Lindegaard.

Forest: Smith Lichaj, Worrall, Fox, Pinillos, Cohen, Vaughan, Brereton (Ward 62). Clough (Cash 73), Osborn, Assombalonga (Vellios 73). Subs (not used): Mancienne, Tshibola, Carayol, Evtimov.

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)

Attendance: 12,459 (1,539 away)