Match Report - Preston North End throw lead away against Huddersfield Town

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Preston North End threw their lead away against Huddersfield Town as they lost 2-1 at Deepdale.

Greg Cunningham had put the home side ahead from a corner, taking the advantage into the break, before goals from Jordan Rhodes and Kaine Kessler Hayden in the second half turned the game around for the struggling Terriers.

North End manager Ryan Lowe made no changes for the game, going with the same XI that lost to Queens Park Rangers last time out, but he was bolstered with options off the bench.

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Alan Browne, Emil Riis and Ali McCann all made returns to the squad after injury.

Preston North End's Greg Cunningham battles with Huddersfield Town's Jack RudoniPreston North End's Greg Cunningham battles with Huddersfield Town's Jack Rudoni
Preston North End's Greg Cunningham battles with Huddersfield Town's Jack Rudoni

After PNE had paid tribute to fans that were lost over the last 12 months, the game got underway and the first flashpoint came after 14 minutes.

David Kasumu flew into a tackle late on Ryan Ledson but referee Geoff Eltringham decided to only issue a yellow card, the Terriers midfield perhaps a little fortunate to continue having struck the North End man halfway up his shin.

It woke PNE up and their next passage was magnificent a minute later, Ben Woodburn, Daniel Johnson and Evans all linking up to find the former, who headed narrowly beyond the post.

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The Welshman was the source of PNE's next chance, coming on 27 minutes. The ball fell kindly for him on the edge of the box to strike on the volley, his rasping effort dipping just over bar.

The hosts had the lead eight minutes later. Ben Whiteman's corner from the left was attacked by Ched Evans but it was Cunningham with the final touch as Lee Nicholls got two hands to it but could not keep it out - despite Evans' celebrations too. A second for the Irishman in his last two games against Huddersfield, his last proved to be a winner.

PNE saw out the remains of the first half, taking their slender lead in a game lacking in clear chances with them into the break.

The game did not liven up in the second half and it remained attritional, both sides knowing that a single moment could decide the game.

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Evans got the better of his man after 66 minutes, rolling the ball through Duane Holmes' legs to set him on his way into the area but his cross was blocked.

A minute later Alvaro Fernandez saw a volley blocked in the middle of the area as Preston enjoyed a short spell of chances.

It was not over either as Evans collected the ball around 25 yards out and let fly but again a Town body got in the way of it.

Fernandez was involved too when he sent a corner back into the area after it had been cleared on 69 minutes, Evans' initial header fell back to his feet and his side footed strike from a tight angle was saved by the legs of Nicholls.

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A minute later and North End had a chance that proved to be decisive. Ryan Ledson released Woodburn through on goal and he lifted the ball over the onrushing Huddersfield keeper, and beyond the post. A huge let off for the visitors.

But in the Christmas spirit, the Yorkshire side were not ungrateful of their gift to still be in the game, instead they took full advantage.

Rhodes got his side level on 76 minutes as PNE failed to deal with a long ball forward, Brahima Diarra made an impact off the bench as he got the better of Cunningham to square it to his no.9 who made no mistake inside the area firing it low into the far corner.

Two minutes later he nearly had his side in the lead as he hit the inside of the post, finding more and more room in the North End box.

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On 85 minutes, Kessler Hayden instead put his side into the lead. Jack Rudoni's low cross from the left was allowed to run all the way along the floor across the six yard box, as Freddie Woodman seemed unwilling to come and claim, allowing Kessler Hayden to simply redirect the cross into an unguarded net.

It was a sucker punch for North End and punishment for not extending their lead, leaving them outside the play-off places having had the chance to jump back into the top six before the game as they could not find a way to get a result at Deepdale.

PNE Starting XI: Woodman, Storey, Lindsay, Cunningham, Potts (Diaby, 90+2'), Whiteman, Ledson (Riis, 77'), Fernandez, Johnson (Browne, 77'), Woodburn (McCann, 77'), Evans.PNE Subs: Cornell, Bauer, Cross-Adair, .Huddersfield Town Starting XI: Nicholls, Lees, Helik, Boyle, Kesler-Hayden, Kasumu (Diarra, 71'), Hogg, Ruffels, Holmes (Jackson, 90+6'), Rudoni, Rhodes.

Huddersfield Town Subs: Bilokapic, Spencer, Camara, Mahoney, Simpson.

Attendance: 16,982 (1,097 away)