Preston winger Josh Ginnelly makes PNE boss Alex Neil sit up and take note after starring role in Scottish Cup final for Hearts
Josh Ginnelly gave Preston boss Alex Neil some food for thought at the weekend after starring for Hearts in the Scottish Cup final.
The 21-year-old North End winger is on a season-long loan with the Edinburgh club after heading north of the border in September.
Injuries have hampered his progress with the Jambos since his arrival but he stepped off the bench in the second half to inspire a fightback against Celtic at Hampden Park.
He provided an assist and then scored an equaliser in extra time as the final ended 3-3, but unfortunately it was the Scottish giants who prevailed 4-3 in the subsequent penalty shoot-out.
Hearts, who currently lead the way in the Scottish Championship, were trailing 2-1 when Ginnelly entered the fray in the 57th minute.
The Hoops had taken a 2-0 lead inside the opening half hour after Ryan Christie’s superb finish and Odsonne Edouard’s penalty.
Liam Boyce pulled a goal back just after half-time and that was cue for Ginnelly to have his say. The loanee almost pulled his side level immediately when he took advantage of a defensive mix-up to bear down on goal but his shot was beaten away to safety by Hoops No.1 Conor Hazard.
However, there was no keeping Ginnelly out of the action as 10 minutes after coming on, he provided a wicked delivery from a corner which was headed just over the line by Stephen Kingsley.
Leigh Griffiths restored the lead in extra time but it was Ginnelly who popped up with the equaliser in the 111th minute. A free-kick from the left caused all sorts of confusion in the Celtic penalty area and Ginnelly was on hand at the back post to fire home.
Many commentators have suggested Ginnelly was the game’s star performer and did not deserve to finish on the losing side.
Ginnelly has endured a frustrating time at Tynecastle Park. After appearing five times and scoring a goal in October, he has been sidelined with a thigh strain, but managed to score on his return in a 6-1 win over Queen of the South earlier this month.
Ginnelly arrived at Preston in January last year from Walsall.
He found his opportunities at Deepdale limited, making just one substitute appearance in the Championship and four in all competitions.
It remains to be seen whether he will be offered a fresh deal when his existing one expires next summer.