Preston North End midfielder Ben Pearson awaiting fate after red card

Ben Pearson reacts to being sent off at Hillsborough
Ben Pearson reacts to being sent off at Hillsborough

Alex Neil does not believe there was any malice in the tackle which led to Ben Pearson’s red card in Preston’s 
defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

The Lilywhites played with 10 men for more than an hour after Pearson was dismissed for the midfield challenge on Marco Matias.

Pearson faces a four-game suspension but PNE are set to appeal the sending off.

If an appeal is lodged, it will be heard by the FA today.

The red card was the major talking point at Hillsborough, North End holding out with 10 men until the 62nd minute when Michael Hector scored Wednesday’s winner.

Pearson slid in to tackle Matias with his right foot and won the ball.

However, he caught the Wednesday man with his left leg in the follow-through.

North End manager Neil said: “Having watched it back I think it merits an appeal.

“I’m not convinced there was any malice in it, the lad pops back up and played the rest of the game.

“If you have ever played football and you go in with your right foot, unless you chop your left foot off and put it over your shoulder, I’m not sure where you put it.

“If you are running at full speed and are going to try to tackle, you can’t kick the ball and automatically stop.

“Your momentum is naturally going to take you through.

“Later in the first half I saw Steven Fletcher tackle Paul Gallagher and it was the exact same challenge – he didn’t even get booked.

“Paul clears the ball and Fletcher comes right in over the top of his foot.

“I don’t like to comment on referees because I think they have a really difficult job.

“But I just felt this decision really affected the game.”

Pearson’s red card carries a three-match ban but as it was his second sending-off of the season, he gets an extra game.

If the planned appeal does not succeed, he will not be available until the Swansea game on January 12.

Pearson’s predicament aside, North End are already light on numbers.

Louis Moult returned to the side on Saturday after a hamstring niggle but lasted only 47 minutes.

Tom Clarke was ruled out due to breathing difficulties caused by his broken nose.

Neil chose to start with Alan Browne on the bench in order to give him a breather before the Christmas games.

However, Moult’s injury saw Browne introduced to the action soon after half-time.

Said Neil: “Alan came off in the last game because he had cramp in his calf muscles.

“On Wednesday he hadn’t trained because of fatigue in his hamstrings because he puts so much into games.

“I was hoping to rest Alan for this one and build him into the next game.”