Stevenage 1 Preston North End 1

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
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Preston North End were denied victory by a late Stevenage equaliser in their Easter Monday visit to Broadhall Way.

Substitute Iain Hume looked to have given North End the points when he latched on to Danny Mayor’s pass to shoot home in the 85th minute.

But more than three minutes into stoppage-time, Boro skipper Mark Roberts headed the home side level.

It prevented Graham Westley making a winning return to the club he left in January to take over at Preston.

Being pegged back so late in the game was a little harsh on PNE who looked the stronger side in the second half.

If there was one consolation to take, the point edged them ever closer to League One safety.

Westley made two changes to the North End side - David Gray replaced the injured Nicky Hunt at right-back, with Chuks Aneke coming in for Hume up front.

Before kick-off, Westley emerged from the tunnel to a mixture of applause and booing from the home fans.

And even the North End boss had a chuckle when the Boro faithful chanted ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’ in his direction.

In the early exchanges, Laird hit a first-time shot from outside of the box wide of the near post.

Then the left-back was just too high with an effort on the turn after Joel Byrom’s corner had bounced around in the box.

PNE’s first sight of goal came when Mayor rolled a free-kick square to Aneke whose shot thumped into the gloves of Chris Day.

Agyemang powered his way into the box in the 13th minute but his right-foot drive just cleared the bar.

Thorsten Stuckmann was well positioned to hold Craig Reid’s shot at the near post as the high-tempo start to proceedings continued.

North End almost broke the deadlock with 21 minutes on the clock, Max Ehmer’s slipping a pass through to Aneke just inside the box, the teenager spinning round to fire in a low shot which Day dived to palm away one-handed.

Lawrie Wilson lifted a shot over the bar at the near post after getting in front of the visitors defence to meet a flick-on.

Seven minutes before the interval, Aneke out-muscled Jon Ashton as they jostled for the ball to the left of the box and rolled a pass across to Holroyd.

A smart piece of skill saw Holroyd dummy the ball across his body before hitting a low shot which Roberts slid across to block superbly.

Two minutes into first-half stoppage-time, Stuckmann dived to hold Freeman’s shot from the edge of the box.

Inside 23 seconds of the re-start, Bailey Wright produced a fine sliding block to deny Agyemang on the edge of the box after Laird’s crossfield pass had picked him out.

Reid’s glancing header from a Wilson right-wing cross then flew harmlessly wide of the back post without troubling Stuckmann.

In the 58th minute, Paul Coutts got down the right side of the box and sent over a low cross which Holroyd was closing-in to meet in the six-yard box until Day got a glove to it and clawed it away.

PNE’s first-team coach Dino Maamria was ordered out of the technical area by referee Dean Whitestone after a heated argument with the Boro bench which followed a foul on Coutts which had left the midfielder nursing a cut mouth.

The fourth official brought the incident to the attention of Mr Whitestone who sent Maarmia down the tunnel.

A great chance fell North End’s way in the 70th minute, Holroyd chasing what seemed a lost cause down the right side of the box.

He cut the ball back from the byeline to Ehmer who slid in but off-balance managed to lift it high over the bar from six yards.

Westley changed both strikers just after that, Holroyd and Aneke giving way to Hume and Jamie Proctor.

There was almost an instant impact from Proctor, the teenager curling a shot just wide of the far post after a scramble in the box.

An 82nd minute cross from Coutts found Andy Procter in the middle, but the skipper misdirected his header back across goal.

The stalemate was finally broken five minutes from time with a well-worked and well-executed goal.

Mayor got the ball on the left-wing, cut inside before playing in Hume on the left side of the box.

The substitute got the ball under control and rolled a low shot across Day and into the far bottom corner to the delight of the travelling fans behind that goal.

But victory was snatched from them more than three minutes into stoppage time, Roberts left unmarked six yards out to meet Michael Bostwick’s cross and steer a header past Stuckmann.

Stevenage: Day, Henry, Ashton, Roberts, Laird, Wilson, Byrom ( Myrie-Williams 86), Bostwick, Freeman, Agyemang (Slew 72), Reid (Thalasstis 81). Subs: Mousinho, Lascelles.

PNE: Stuckmann, Gray, Robertson, Wright, Parry, Coutts, Ehmer, Procter, Mayor, Aneke (Proctor 72), Holroyd (Hume 72). Subs: Devine, Cummins, Arestidou.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northants)

Attendance: 3,386