Barnsley 2 Preston North End 1: Match report on a night when PNE let slip a lead and fall to defeat to Oakwell
Preston North End let an early lead slip and went down to defeat against Barnsley at Oakwell.
Sean Maguire put them ahead with less than two minutes played and were comfortable throughout the first half, Emil Riis missing a chance on the break to stretch the lead just before half-time.
However, Barnsley were to turn the game on its head in the second half as North End lost their way somewhat and got away from what they had been doing well in the first 45 minutes.,
Tykes skipper Alex Mowatt produced a good finish to equalise in the 54th minute, then substitute Victor Adeboyejo got behind the visitors defence to fire the winner 10 minutes from time.
It was a second successive away defeat for the Lilywhites and while an improvement on the display at Luton, it wasn't enough to prevent them leaving South Yorkshire empty-handed.
The North End side had shown five changes from the 3-0 defeat at Luton, three voluntary and two enforced.
Josh Earl, Paul Gallagher, Daniel Johnson, Riis and Maguire came into the side, with Paul Huntington, Jayden Stockley and Scott Sinclair moving to the bench, while injury kept Ryan Ledson and Brad Potts out.
Alex Neil opted for a 3-5-2 system, Darnell Fisher, Ben Davies and Andrew Hughes forming the three-man defence. Tom Barkhuizen and Earl operated as the wing-backs, with Alan Browne, Gallagher and Johnson the midfield trio.
For Earl, it was his first league start for North End since April 2019 having spent last season out on loan at Bolton Wanderers and then Ipswich.
It took PNE less than two minutes to go in front, Earl's ball in from the left put out for a corner by the Barnsley defence.
Gallagher swung the flag kick over from the left, the ball flicked off the head of Tykes striker Cauley Woodrow and fell Maguire's way at the far post who stooped to head it home - keeper Jack Walton clawing it back out but referee Dean Whitestone got the signal from Hawkeye that it had crossed the line.
Mr Whitestone did go to his assistant at the request of the Barnsley before confirming he had given the goal.
Barnsley responded with headers from Mads Andersen and Michael Sollbauer which both went wide at the far post after deliveries from the right.
North End were fairly direct in their approach, favouring the long ball up to Riis and Maguire to bypass a heavy pitch, content to pick up the second balls from there.
Both sides had a good chance in the run-up to the interval, the first coming Barnsley's way in the 42nd minute.
A ball over the top of the defence from the right channel picked out the run of Callum Styles but the midfielder lifted his shot over the bar at the far post.
Then 60 seconds before half-time, PNE counter-attacked after defending a free-kick.
The ball was played up to Riis who got away from his marker in the box but put his low shot too close to keeper Jack Walton who dived to save - Johnson well placed for a pass square of him.
Woodrow went close for the hosts in the 53rd minute, chasing a long ball down the left side of the box and shooting into the side-netting at the near post.
That was a warning shot across the bow, with Barnsley pulling level a minute later.
Mowatt got possession three yards outside the box, exchanged passes with Styles, before sweeping a fine finish past Declan Rudd.
North End came close to regaining the lead in the 59th minute as Barkhuizen's low cross found Earl in the box.
The wing-back's first shot was saved low down by the keeper with his legs and when the ball rebounded back to Earl, he lifted the follow-up just too high.
Neil's first changes of the night saw Sinclair and Joe Rafferty come on for front pair Riis and Maguire - Sinclair and Barkhuizen forming the attack.
Barkhuizen later gave way to Stockley as North End looked for an outlet.
After Mowatt's equaliser it was Barnsley who looked the more threatening and they edged ahead with 10 minutes left.
Woodrow's pass played in Adeboyejo behind the PNe back line on the left hand side of the box and the substitute finished with a powerful shot across Rudd.
PNE put the pressure on at the end to try and find an equaliser but couldn't turn that into anything meaningful in terms of late chances
Barnsley: Walton, Andersen, Helik, Sollbauer, Brittain, James (Kane 78), Mowatt, Styles, Frieser (Adeboyejo 61) Woodrow, Chaplin (Thomas 61). Subs (not used): Odour, Moon, Palmer, Miller, Schmidt, Collins,
PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Davies, Hughes, Barkhuizen (Stockley 74), Browne, Gallagher (Bayliss 78), Earl, Johnson, Maguire (Rafferty 67), Riis (Sinclair 67). Subs (not used): Storey, Harrop, O'Reilly, Huntington, Ripley.
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)
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