It was a night of heartbreak for North End with a huge amount of controversy thrown is, as Alex Neil’s men went down 1-0 to 90th-minute penalty conceded by Declan Rudd.
TV replays showed their was no contact on Kyle Edwards but that won’t bring back the point that PNE fully deserved. Not one of the first-choice back four was involved in the squad but the deputies who came in did a sterling job until the final moment, when an over-eager referee cost Preston a point. North End had shown the visitors plenty of respect in the first half and this somewhat stifled our attacking intentions, I thought.
But after the break PNE gradually enjoyed more possession and created one or two good openings.
Johnstone saved one beautiful curling shot from Johnson but in spite of all our efforts and hard work we were beaten by a decision from the man in the middle that has cost us dearly.
North End made four changes to the team that started at Hull although two of them were enforced with Gallagher and Bauer missing through injury.
In spite of the handicap of having half the first team out injured we looked solid enough at the back with Paul Huntington being his old commanding and domineering self.
It seemed to give Jordan Storey some confidence and with 20 minutes gone I had forgotten about the injured players.
West Bromwich Albion had the majority of the play in the first half, with Rudd getting down to save twice and the PNE defence clearing their lines quickly on a few occasions.
SEan Maguire had our best chance when he really should have laid it back for Tom Barkhuizen but chose to have a go himself, much to the disgust of a few of his team-mates.
Nevertheless we were very good value for the draw at half-time having survived some pressure in the final minutes of the first half.
The second period was a much more even affair than the first half had been and on balance you would have to say that North End looked the most likely side to break the deadlock after the break.
WBA were getting a little frustrated and we had a couple of good chances with a superb Johnson curler, which Johnstone just got his fingertips to as the ball was heading for the corner of the net.
Alan Browne then had a shot which was saved on the line and at first glance it looked like it had been saved with the defender’s hands but the referee gave a corner kick.
As the game wore on it opened up a little but North End were still looking good value for a point when catastrophe struck right at the end.
Edwards was put through and although the ball was past Rudd, he went to ground with replays showing absolutely no contact on forward from goalkeeper.
Hearbreak for Preston as Charlie Austin converted the penalty and a point was so cruelly taken from out grasp when the performance on the night thoroughly deserved it.
I suppose the negatives from the result of this game are that we have now lost three on the trot, and the momentum we had has well and truly left us for a while until we can get back to winning ways.
However, this was a much better performance from North End than the debacle over at Hull last Wednesday evening.
This was Preston’s first home defeat and we are in December so it isn’t all doom and gloom.
I was really impressed with my man of the match Paul Huntington and special mention on the evening should also go to Alan Browne and to Daniel Johnson, who worked really hard in the North End midfield on an evening when he had to do more spoiling than creating.
That game goes in the “robbed” file and we can only hope that sort of luck evens itself out over the season. For now though its back to the hard graft and see if we can get back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon at Loftus Road.