Match report: PNE 2 Brighton 0

Goals from Paul Huntington and Callum Robinson gave Preston North End victory over Brighton and Hove Albion at Deepdale.

Saturday, 14th January 2017, 7:16 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th January 2017, 8:21 pm
Callum Robinson scores PNE's second goal

Huntington headed them in front in the 13th minute, that his first goal since netting in the play-off final at Wembley in May 2015.

Robinson stretched the advantage eight minutes after the interval, running on to a fine ball over the top from Daryl Horgan to calmly slot home.

Five minutes into stoppage-time, Chris Maxwell saved a penalty from substitute Tomer Hemed to prevent Albion getting a consolation goal.

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North End's win - their first at home for a month - knocked the Seagulls off the top of the Championship and ended their 18-match unbeaten run.

It was a deserved three points with some very good performances all over the pitch.

The recalled Alan Browne was excellent in midfield, Horgan on his full debut industrious down the right-wing.

Huntington and Tom Clarke were rock-solid at the back, Huntington's goal the cherry on the top of his performance.

North End boss Simon Grayson had made two changes to the side, with Browne and Horgan coming in for Ben Pearson (suspended) and Daniel Johnson (ill).

It was Horgan's first start after signing from Dundalk, the winger making a cameo appearance from the bench against Arsenal last Saturday.

Tom Barkhuizen, Stevie May and Liam Grimshaw came on to the bench.

North End were in a 4-4-2 formation, Horgan starting on the right-wing and Aiden McGeady on the left.

There was an early chance for Robinson, the front man collecting Jordan Hugill's lay-off inside the box and getting a shot away which deflected off a defender and spun wide of the far post,

Brighton midfielder Oliver Norwood drove a low first-time shot from the edge of the box wide of the target after a clearance from Paul Gallagher had fallen into his path.

Shane Duffy then met an inswinging free-kick from Anthony Knockaert with a powerful header which just cleared the bar, Maxwell getting clattered in the process and needing treatment.

PNE took the lead in the 13th minute after a foul on Hugill down the right channel saw them awarded a free-kick.

Gallagher delivered the free-kick to the front post where Huntington headed home from inside the six-yard box for his first goal of the season.

An attack on the break saw Browne and Robinson combine well to play in Hugill but the striker, off balance, pulled a shot wide.

Browne timed a tackle superbly on Glenn Murray to stop him connecting with Jiri Skalak's cross on the edge of the box.

In the 36th minute, Murray robbed Tom Clarke of possession and raced the box, his shot pushed past the near post by Maxwell.

Then in first-half stoppage time, Murray put a header just wide from Sam Adekugbe's cross, although the flag went up for offside.

North End had to withstand some early second-half pressure from the visitors but hit them on the counter-attack to stretch the lead in the 53rd minute.

McGeady fed a pass to Horgan in the Preston half, the Irish winger taking the ball on a few paces before lifting a pass over the top of the Brighton defence to free Robinson.

He held off a couple of attempts by Bruno to pull him back, staying on his feet before steering a low finish past David Stockdale into the bottom corner.

Albion skipper Bruno was booked in the 63rd minute for bringing down Hugill who had turned and got away from him.

Greg Cunningham joined him on the book soon after for a foul on Knockaert, that his 10th caution of the season which triggers a two-match suspension.

In the aftermath, Knockaert appeared to push out at Cunningham but the Frenchman escaped punishment from referee Simon Hooper.

An excellent clearance at full stretch in the six-yard box from Clarke prevented a Knockaert cross reaching its intended target at the back post, Brighton having overloaded the Preston back line on the right wing.

In the 77th minute, Horgan came inside off the right channel and curled a left-foot shot just wide of the far post.

Barkhuizen came off the bench for his Preston debut in the 83rd minute, the former Morecambe man replacing Robinson.

Moments after the change, a Norwood free-kick was won in the air by Connor Goldson, the ball falling to Duffy who's header looped goalwards and was hooked off the line by Marnick Vermijl.

Horgan departed the action in the 90th minute to a standing ovation from the crowd, the winger replaced by Tommy Spurr.

There was drama deep into stoppage-time when Brighton substitute Jamie Murphy went down under Maxwell's challenge in the box during a scramble.

Maxwell redeemed himself, diving to his right to parry Hemed's spot-kick.

Soon after, the final whistle sounded to give PNE their first win at Deepdale since December 10.

PNE: Maxwell, Vermijl, Clarke, Huntington, Cunningham, McGeady (Grimshaw 90), Gallagher, Browne, Horgan (Spurr 90), Robinson (Barkhuizen 83) Hugill. Subs (not used): Makienok, Pringle, May, Lindegaard.

Brighton: Stockdale, Bruno, Duffy, Goldson, Adekugbe, Knockaert, Sidwell (Kayal 73), Norwood, Skalak (Murphy 56), Baldock (Hemed 63), Murray. Subs (not used): Hunemeier, March, Hunt, Maenpaa.

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 11,391 (1,205 away)