Match report: PNE 2 Sunderland 2

Preston North End's clash with Sunderland finished all-square, much of the action packed into a spell of the second half.

Saturday, 30th September 2017, 6:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 3:35 pm
PNE boss Alex Neil

It was Simon Grayson's first return to Deepdale after leaving for the Black Cats three months ago and it was his side which took a first-half lead through George Honeyman.

North End had been sluggish in that first period but sprung into life after the interval, scoring twice in two minutes through Josh Harrop and Jordan Hugill - the finish from Hugill a top-drawer effort.

But within two minutes of going in front, Alex Neil's men left the back door ajar for Aiden McGeady to fire the visitors' equaliser.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

McGeady did himself no favours with the Preston fans who voted him their player of the year last season, running more than half the length of the pitch to celebrate near to them.

This was an eighth game unbeaten for PNE but a third draw in four home games in September.

North End were without John Welsh who failed a late fitness test on an injury, his place going to Harrop.

Visitors Sunderland included ex-Preston players McGeady, Tyias Browning and Billy Jones in their starting XI.

The first chance of note fell Sunderland's way, Gooch turning on the left side of the box and putting over a cross which struck Ben Davies and was cut out by Chris Maxwell.

In the 16th minute, Tom Barkhuizen's run took him down the right channel and into the box before he squared the ball inside to Alan Browne.

The midfielder hit a first-time shot which struck a defender, appeals for handball falling on deaf ears.

A Harrop free-kick was met by Davies in the box, his header flying well wide of the far post.

Honeyman struck a powerful shot from 20 yards wide of the target, a McGeady corner having been cleared out of the box by the North End defence.

Sunderland went in front in the 28th minute, Browning's free-kick headed on by James Vaughan into the path of Lynden Gooch.

He turned and laid the ball inside to Honeyman who drilled a low shot into the net from 14 yards.

If North End had been laboured in their first-half efforts, they woke-up for the start of the second period, scoring twice in two minutes to equalise and then briefly take the lead.

They'd already had one promising attack right at the start of the half, Hugill breaking down the left but putting too much on his square ball to Barkhuizen who was in acres of space in the middle.

The equaliser arrived in the 55th minute after they won a free-kick down the left channel.

Harrop whipped it in right-footed, the ball travelling across box and going straight in at the far post, perhaps taking a touch off a Sunderland player on the way through.

Within two minutes Preston had the lead with the sweetest of finishes from Hugill.

Browne's run towards the box was halted by a challenge, the ball sitting up for Hugill to volley home from 20 yards.

It was an advantage they held for barely two minutes, McGeady firing home a low left-foot finish from the edge of the box after a Gooch shot was blocked.

The goal was scored in front of the Sunderland fans in the Kop but McGeady took his celebrations to the other end of the pitch, much to the fury of the Preston supporters in the Town End.

Such a crazy spell almost took another twist in the 61st minute, Browne's left-foot curler from the edge of the box striking the top of the far post.

Chris Maxwell ran out of his box to charge down an effort from substitute Duncan Watmore out on Sunderland's left-wing, the visits screaming for handball against the Welshman - referee Chris Kavanagh awarding a throw-in.

In the 80th minute, Watmore kept the ball in play on the byline as Paul Huntington attempted to shepherd it out.

Watmore pulled it back to the near post where the excellent Davies put in a fine tackle on Lee Cattermole to clear the danger.

PNE: Maxwell, Fisher, Huntington, Davies, Earl, Browne, Johnson, Barkhuizen (Horgan 68), Maguire (Robinson 88), Harrop, Hugill (Mavididi 77). Subs (not used): Vermijl, Woods, Spurr, Hudson.

Sunderland: Steele, Jones (Oviedo 70), Browning, O'Shea. Matthews, Cattermole, NDong, Honeyman (Williams 83), Gooch (Watmore 64), McGeady, Vaughan. Subs (not used): McManaman, Kone, Gibson, Ruiter.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester)

Attendance: 17,621 (2,929 away)