Preston North End 2 Bristol City 2: Dave Seddon's verdict - Leaving PNE games early isn't advisable

Leaving Preston North End matches early is not advised if you want to be assured of catching all the action.

By Dave Seddon
Sunday, 30th January 2022, 8:00 am

People leave games before the final whistle for a variety of reasons, whether it is to beat the traffic, get to the pub or they are frozen to the skin.

PNE matches under Ryan Lowe haven’t generally faded out without late drama.

There have been fairly late goals, at both ends, in seven of his eight games in charge.

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Preston North End striker Emil Riis celebrates scoring his first goal against Bristol City at Deepdale

On Saturday, North End pushed things to the limit with five minutes of stoppage-time played when Emil Riis fired their equaliser.

Those who were on their way home by then missed an absolute treat, the ball moved from the edge of one box to the other for Riis to volley home.

It was the second rescue mission staged by the Dane who soon after half-time had levelled the scores at 1-1.

Looking back at the games Lowe has had at the helm, seven goals have come after the 76th mark.

PNE striker Cameron Archer holds off Bristol City midfielder Han-Noah Massengo

Two of those went against them, Birmingham scoring late on and Cardiff towards the end of extra-time in the FA Cup meeting.

The Barnsley game which was the first Lowe oversaw, PNE scored a 78th minute winner.

They won at Stoke with an 81st minute goal, equalised against Sheffield United with 89 minutes on the clock.

At West Bromwich Albion last midweek, their second goal came in the 76th minute.

Emil Riis fires home PNE's first equaliser against Bristol City at Deepdale

It could be argued that the late show against Bristol City was somewhat harsh on the visiting Robins.

Lowe’s lads did have a much better second half following a first-half stinker.

But after twice taking the lead – their second goal going in after 81 minutes – City might have felt they deserved the three points.

They weren’t able to see the job through, PNE’s equaliser hinging on a 26-second spell of play as the clock ran down in time added on.

PNE striker Emil Riis produces a stunning finish for the late equaliser against Bristol City

When a Preston pass on the edge of the City box was cut out, Cameron Pringle led a counter attack up field.

That was stopped in its tracks by Ali McCann’s precision tackle just outside the PNE penalty area.

The ball was worked to the right-wing, Alan Browne sending it down the flank for Brad Potts to chase.

Potts got to it five yards before the byline and lifted over a cross on the run which Riis took two steps back to meet and volleyed into the far corner.

Those who had stayed at a windswept Deepdale quickly forgot the cold as they jumped to their feet to celebrate.

That’s a dozen league goals for the Dane and 16 in all this season. Lowe thinks 20 plus is realistic for his frontman and with 18 matches left, it should be.

Riis’ first goal in this clash came from much closer in, seizing on a rebound from six yards after Cameron Archer had been parried by the keeper.

That goal was the first sign that PNE had been woken from their first-half slumber by what Lowe did and said during half-time.

Two substitutions were made, McCann and Josh Earl brought on in place of Ryan Ledson and Greg Cunningham.

McCann made a big difference in midfield as Lowe sought to cover the absence of Daniel Johnson, currently in World Cup qualifying action for Jamaica.

As against WBA, he had started with Ledson, Alan Browne and Ben Whiteman.

Those three and the shape they were in worked a treat at The Hawthorns but that didn’t transfer to Deepdale.

McCann has had to wait his turn during these early weeks of Lowe’s tenure.

He started the Barnsley game last month at right wing-back, his other start being in midfield in the FA Cup.

It was bench duty to start with at the weekend but this time he got 45 minutes to press his claim for more action.

Seeing McCann restricted to the list of substitutes for this long has surprised the Preston faithful a little.

Midfield is a conjested area of the squad though, with some strong competition.

Lowe’s favoured approach has been Whiteman playing deep, Johnson and Browne further forward.

Johnson’s international duty forced a change, as it will again at Millwall on Tuesday.

North End just couldn’t get going in the first half of their latest clash with City – an 18th meeting since 2013.

Nigel Pearson’s side got on top once a scrappy opening 10 minutes had passed.

Han-Noah Massengo soon stamped his mark on midfield and was to be the contest’s best player by a distance.

Wearing No.42 and with a huge head of hair, you couldn’t miss him buzzing around.

PNE skipper Browne came off second best to him, this not an afternoon he will remember with fondness.

The hosts were opened up rather too easily for the first goal in the 12th minute.

Callum O’Dowda had the time to collect possession 25 yards out and slide a pass into the box for Chris Martin to meet to the left of goal and steer a low finish across Daniel Iversen.

The goal seemed to send the Lilywhites into their shell, with them reluctant to work the ball from the back.

Riis and Archer got little service of note, although that was to change.

In the second half Archer began to find space and drop into areas to get on the ball.

He put a 20-yard shot too high soon after the restart before creating the equaliser.

Having dropped deep to get possession, Archer turned and moved towards the box, hitting a right-foot shot from the edge of the ‘D'.

It stung the gloves of Max O’Leary and bounced into the path of the following-up Riis who shot in from six yards.

A 1-1 draw looked the likely outcome as the half went on but it took a turn with nine minutes left, Massengo’s pass playing in Antonie Semenyo down the left side of the box.

The striker beat Iversen with a driven finish inside the near post, celebrating with a somersault.

It was PNE flipping with joy when Riis pulled them level, the technique he showed in taking a couple of steps back to get his body shape right, impressive to say the least.

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PNE player ratings: Preston North End 2 Bristol City 2