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Match report: PNE 1 Wolves 1

Alan Browne climbs to head PNE in front against Wolves
Alan Browne climbs to head PNE in front against Wolves

Preston North End held Championship leaders Wolves to a draw at Deepdale after playing more than half an hour with 10 men.

John Welsh was sent-off in the 59th minute for two bookings, the red card coming with North End 1-0 up.

Alan Browne shields the ball from Ruben Neves

Alan Browne shields the ball from Ruben Neves

A far post header from Alan Browne had given PNE the lead in the 52nd minute, the Irishman rising to meet a corner from Callum Robinson.

Wolves, the division's runway leaders, levelled within two minutes of Welsh's dismissal through Helder Costa.

In the circumstances it was a good point for North End, despite the disappointment of giving away the lead, and it kept them firmly in the play-off hunt.

The game was an enthralling one, with plenty to keep fans on the edge of their seats right until the last kick.

PNE skipper Paul Huntington challenges in the air

PNE skipper Paul Huntington challenges in the air

Alex Neil's starting XI had shown three changes from the side which had started last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Brentford.

Josh Earl, Ben Davies and Welsh came into the team, Davies returning after a three-week absence with a hamstring injury.

Earl replaced the suspended Greg Cunningham at left-back, Welsh getting his first Championship start in midfield since November in the absence of Ben Pearson (suspended) and Paul Gallagher (injured).

Included on the bench was 16-year-old midfielder Adam Reilly, the Republic of Ireland Under-17 international a first-year scholar at the club.

Helder Costa fires Wolves level

Helder Costa fires Wolves level

Operating in their customary 4-2-3-1 system, Preston were bright in the opening stages and had the better of the early play.

Their one chance from that spell was a 20-yard shot from Tom Barkhuizen which was blocked by visiting skipper Conor Coady in the box.

Wolves, so impressive this season as they home in on a return to the Premier League, began to get their passing game going as the first half progressed.

Costa was played clear in the box in the 25th minute but with Earl paying him close attention, he blazed his shot high over the bar and into the Alan Kelly Town End.

North End counter-attacked well soon after that, Daniel Johnson's pass finding Robinson down the left channel.

Robinson came inside on to his right foot and hit a right-foot shot which flew across the box and wide of the far post.

Diogo Jota jinked past three PNE challenges before seeing Welsh deflect his shot behind for a corner.

When that corner was cleared out of the box, Ruben Neves drove a first-time shot inches over the bar.

Six minutes before the interval, Robinson's corner from the left travelled to the far post where Davies sent a header just wide.

North End almost broke the deadlock less than three minutes into the second half, Browne getting the ball on the edge of the box taking a couple of strides forward and hitting a right-foot shot across goal which came back off the far post.

Browne wasn't to be denied four minutes later though, as he put Preston in front.

Right-back Darnell Fisher's volley was blocked by Wolves centre-back Willy Boly, the ball flying over the bar for a corner.

Robinson delivered the flag-kick from the left with plenty of power over to the far post where Browne climbed to head home his fifth goal of the campaign.

The feel-good factor of taking the lead lasted until the 59th minute when Welsh was sent-off for pulling down Ivan Cavaleiro on the half-way line, earning him a second yellow card of the contest - the first being for a foul on Jota four minutes before the break.

Less than two minutes after Welsh had left the pitch Wolves pulled level, Costa firing home from 10 yards after the visitors had broken into the Preston box.

As at Brentford when Preston went down to 10 men, they switched to a 4-4-1 system, Daryl Horgan replacing Robinson with Barkhuizen ploughing a lone furrow up front.

It was Wolves, not surprisingly, who were in the ascendancy as the clock ticked down.

Declan Rudd made a fine save in the 85th minute, spreading himself to block Benik Afobe's shot with his legs after the Wolves substitute had burst into the box.

The North End keeper was in action again less than sixty seconds later, this time diving to push out Neves' 25-yard effort.

More than four minutes of stoppage-time was safely negotiated, this a very good point in the circumstances for Neil's men.

Goalscorer Browne was once again excellent in midfield, there no arguing with him picking-up the sponsors' starman award.

Centre-half Davies also impressed on his return to the side, there being plenty to do against the visitors' free-flowing three-man attack.

PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Huntington, Davies, Earl, Welsh, Johnson (Harrop 88), Bodin, Browne, Barkhuizen (Moult 88), Robinson (Horgan 70). Subs (not used): Harrop, Woods, Spurr, Moult, O'Reilly, Maxwell.

Wolves: Ruddy, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, N'Diaye (Afobe 62), Neves, Douglas, Costa (Saiss 81), Cavaleiro (Bonatini 88), Jota. Subs (not used): Batth, Gibbs-White, Miranda, Norris.

Referee: Rob Jones (Merseyside)

Attendance: 18,570 (5,626 away)