Tackle was fair, says PNE defender

Bailey Wright
Bailey Wright
Have your say

Paul Huntington has defended himself against an accusation that he made an ‘horrendous’ tackle on QPR’S Nedum Onuoha in Preston North End’s draw at Loftus Road.

Hoops interim head coach Neil Warnock made the claims in his post-match interview.

But Huntington says he won the ball fairly in the challenge with Onuoha, that also the way which referee Rob Lewis saw it as he allowed play to continue.

It was Onuoha who ended-up with a yellow card for dissent, taking his protests for a free-kick too far.

Centre-back Huntington told the Evening Post: “Their lad took a big touch and all I have done is gone and won the ball.

“I told him afterwards that I hadn’t gone in with any malice or anything like that.

“I won the ball and the referee felt that too, Onuoha ended-up getting booked for protesting.

“I just had eyes for the ball and I felt that I won the ball – it was in my stride.

“It was strong and hard but fair. The gaffer looked at it again after the game and agreed it was a well-timed tackle.

“I would never go in to hurt a fellow professional.”

The goalless draw in West London was a sixth clean sheet on the bounce for North End.

That equalled a club record, PNE sides having done likewise in 1901, 1972 and 2000.

Huntington had featured in four of the games as a substitute, with him having been eased back into action after a hamstring problem.

On Saturday he played from the start, taking the place of Greg Cunningham who had suffered a thigh strain in last Tuesday’s win over Nottingham Forest.

To begin with, Huntington was in the middle of a back three, with Calum Woods and Bailey Wright either side of him.

When PNE manager Simon Grayson changed to a back four 15 minutes in, Huntington and Wright were the heart of it.

“It was nice to start the game after being on the bench, it was the first for quite a while,” said Huntington.

“The game was scrappy, it was one for defenders really, with not many chances.

“We made ourselves hard to play against and I thought we had the best chance of the game at the end with Bailey Wright’s header which their keeper made a good save from on the line.

“There was another chance at the end for Alan Browne, his shot looked destined for the top corner until it hit was blocked.

“It is six clean sheets in a row now which is very pleasing, that is something we can build off.

“The lads put in a really dogged performance at QPR which was a great effort after a busy run of games recently.

“I have said it before, every point in this league needs to be earned and we did that.

“It is another positive result for us and we can look forward to the next batch of matches after the international break.”

Huntington felt that the switch to a flat back four worked well – Woods moving to left-back and Marnick Vermijl playing at right-back.

He said: “QPR passed it around nicely for the first 20 minutes, that wasn’t a surprise because they have got some very good players.

“We went to a four and we didn’t seem to feel under as much pressure.

“I thought we contained them well, dictated the tempo and we could have won it at the end.

“Anyone would have taken a clean sheet and a draw.”