Preston North End 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 match report: Ben Whiteman on target as spoils shared with Baggies at Deepdale
Preston North End earned a battling point against unbeaten West Bromwich Albion at Deepdale.
It was a real scrap against a physical Baggies who launched a succession of long throws and corners into the six-yard box.
North End stood up to the test well, taking a 26th minute lead through a shot from Ben Whiteman which took a deflection past former PNE loan keeper Sam Johnstone.
There was an element of controversy about the visitors' equaliser, Darnell Furlong launching a long throw-in from a good 10 yards further forward from where it should have been taken.
The ball got flicked on in the crowded box for Matt Phillips to score at the back post.
Both sides had their chances in the second half - Ryan Ledson forcing a save from Johnstone, while ex-PNE striker Jordan Hugill fired straight at Daniel Iversen late on after breaking into the box.
It was a point well earned for North End, their third draw of a potentially very tough week, extending their unbeaten Championship run to five points.
Frankie McAvoy named an PNE starting XI for the fourth game running, the only alteration on the team sheet being Connor Wickham's inclusion among the substitutes in place of the injured Alan Browne.
Sepp van den Berg picked up an early yellow card for a foul on Grady Diangana as North End rode some early pressure from the visitors.
They got themselves into the game, their first sight of goal being a Patrick Bauer header from Ledson's corner which went wide of the far post.
At the other end Diangana broke towards the PNE box and hit a powerful shot which Iversen got fingertips to and helped over the bar.
The lead came North End's way in the 26th minute, Daniel Johnson winning a bouncing ball outside the box, with it falling to Emil Riis.
His pass found Whiteman on the edge of the 'D', the midfielder's right-foot shot taking a deflection off Kyle Bartley's shin and beating the dive of ohnstone on its way into the bottom corner.
Albion went close to an equaliser just past the half-hour, Adam Reach breaking down the left-wing and sending over a cross which Phillips ran to meet and volleyed inches wide.
In the 43rd minute, Ledson's ball into the box had Riis stretching to meet it at the far post but he couldn't quite get a connection and the ball ended-up bobbling wide.
North End were hit by a sucker punch a minute into stoppage-time at the end of the first half.
The visitors got a throw-in on their right which Furlong took several yards forward from where the ball had gone out of play.
The long throw in was flicked across a packed six-yard box to the far post where Phillips applied the finishing touch from close range.
When the half-time whistle went, Iversen walked to the centre-half to speak to one of the assistants.
The officials certainly got a flea in their ear from the Town End as they headed for the tunnel.
Albion went close in the sixth minute of the second half, Phillips curling a shot from 20 yards over the bar and on to the top of the net, their counter attack having come from defending a PNE free-kick in the other box.
McAvoy made a double change in the 64th minute, Wickham and Ali McCann introduced for their Deepdale bows in place of Sean Maguire and Whiteman.
Wickham won a free-kick just to the side of the box with 75 minutes played, one which the referee only gave after his assistant flagged - Kyle Bartley was booked for it.
Daniel Johnson took the free-kick, the skipper seeing it blocked by the wall and out for a corner.
It was a corner which was partly cleared but Wickham kept the ball alive on the far side of the box and laid off to McCann who whipped a low cross back into the box.
Ledson met it on the volley, Johnstone getting down well to save.
Josh Murphy became the third player to make his home bow, coming off the bench to take Riis' place in the 83rd minute.
As the clock ticked into the 90th minute, Albion substitute Karlan Grant's pass played Hugill into the box but his tame shot went straight at Iversen.
PNE: Iversen, Storey, Bauer, Hughes, van den Berg, Whiteman (McCann 64), Ledson, Earl, Johnson, Maguire (Wickham 64), Riis (Murphy 83). Subs (not used): Cunningham Lindsay, Potts, Rudd.
WBA: Johnstone, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend, Furlong, Livermore, Mowatt, Reach, Phillips (Robinson 69), Diangana (Grant 62), Hugill. Subs (not used): Molumby, Kipre, Snodgrass, Taylor, Button.
Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire)
Attendance: 13,850 (3,219 away)
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here