Match report: Fulham 2 PNE 2

A 96th minute goal denied Preston North End victory against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 14th October 2017, 8:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:23 am
Jordan Huill celebrates his opening goal for PNE at Fulham
Jordan Huill celebrates his opening goal for PNE at Fulham

With more than five minutes of stoppage-time played, Cottagers right-back Denis Odoi fired home an equaliser after goalkeeper Chris Maxwell hadn't been able to hold a high ball under pressure from a Fulham challenge.

North End had taken a 2-0 lead in the first half, Jordan Hugill and Sean Maguire scoring in a seven-minute spell.

PNE midfielder Alan Browne

It was an impressive performance in that first 45 minutes to say the least, PNE's high pressing working a treat.

In the second half, Fulham piled on the pressure and got back into the game with a penalty from Oliver Norwood.

Then just as it looked like North End had seen the game out and with the game going beyond the five extra minutes signalled, disaster struck as Odoi found the net.

The North End side had shown two changes, Ben Pearson and Calum Woods replacing Josh Harrop and the suspended Darnell Fisher.

PNE midfielder Alan Browne

Pearson partnered Daniel Johnson in the centre of midfield, with Alan Browne playing a supporting role behind Hugill - Maguire was on the left and Barkhuizen on the right.

The early action was played at break-neck speed with play swinging from end to end, the visitors adopting a high press to stop their hosts getting into their passing rhythm.

A back header from Tom Ream which fell short of its target almost let in Barkhuizen in the fourth minute, keeper David Button having to be on his toes to kick clear.

At the other end, Norwood put a shot from the edge of the box too high, then Rui Fonte headed over at the far post from a Stefan Johansen cross.

Barkhuizen glanced a header wide from Johnson's cross, before Maxwell prevented North End falling behind in the 18th minute.

Ryan Sessegnon hurdled a sliding tackle from Woods down the Fulham left and surged on into the box.

His low cross was pushed out by Maxwell and fell to Norwood, the midfielder's shot superbly saved one-handed by the keeper with Floyd Ayite putting the rebound over the top.

Preston took a 18th minute lead, Pearson's pass sending Maguire away down the left with the home fans appealing for offside.

Maguire got into the box and squared a pass into the middle for Hugill to side-foot home from seven yards.

Browne went one-on-one soon after, Johnson's pass playing him in, but the Irishman put his shot too close to Button who got down to push it behind.

The advantage was doubled in the 25th minute, Barkhuizen getting down the right channel and into the box, his shot clipping Maguire on the ankle and beating Button at the near post.

Maguire limped off soon after, pulling up as he brought the ball out of defence - his right thigh was strapped as he walked to the tunnel at the interval.

In the 43rd minute, Maxwell dived to palm a deflected shot from Kevin McDonald behind.

During six minutes of added-on time at the end of the first half, Browne tried his luck with a shot from 40 yards after a clearance from Button had been collected by Johnson.

Stirred up no doubt by a half-time blast, Fulham started the second half on the front foot.

Fonte's shot from 20 yards flew inches too high, then a McDonald from further out struck the base of the far post.

John Welsh replaced Pearson as the hour mark approached, Alex Neil no doubt mindful this was the midfielder's first game for more than six weeks.

North End had two great chances on the counter-attack in quick succession.

For the first, Johnson slid in Harrop down the left side of the box, the substitute miscontrolling the ball to start with but recovering to curl a shot just wide.

A strong run from Josh Earl carried him to the edge of the penalty area in the 65th minute, his pass finding Harrop who put his shot too close to the keeper who pushed it behind.

In between those two chances, Ben Davies met a Johnson corner but headed over.

Earl then curled a shot wide from 20 yards after fastening on to Harrop's throw-in.

Fulham got themselves back into the contest in the 74th minute when Fonte went down in the box under a challenge from Woods, referee Darren England awarding a penalty and showing the PNE right-back a yellow card.

Norwood tucked the spot kick into the bottom corner to halve the deficit.

In the latter stages, Fulham piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and North End had a big let-off in the 89th minute.

Tom Cairney's chip over the PNE defence was headed across goal by Denis Odoi and fell towards Norwood by the far post.

But somehow he failed to make contact with the ball and it went behind, credit though for Maxwell for putting him off as the ball came over.

North End were dealt a cruel blow with five minutes of stoppage-time played as the home side levelled.

Maxwell came to collect a punt into the box, couldn't hold it under a challenge and the ball fell to Odoi who drilled it into the net.

Despite the second half pressure they had come under, it still felt harsh on North End with the goal coming so late on.

Fulham: Button, Odoi, Kalas, Ream, Sessegnon, McDonald, Norwood, Ayite, Johansen )Mollo 71), Kebano (Cairney 46), Fonte. Subs (not used): Soares, Graham, Djalo, Cisse, Bettinelli.

PNE: Maxwell, Woods, Huntington, Davies, Earl, Pearson (Welsh 59), Johnson, Barkhuizen (Robinson 71), Browne, Maguire (Harrop 30), Hugill. Subs (not used): Vermijl, Boyle, Mavididi, Hudson.

Referee: Darren England (Barnsley)

Attendance: 18,435 (1,736 PNE)