Hull City 1-1 Preston North End: Dave Seddon's big-match verdict
Preston and late drama have gone hand-in-hand recently, with Louis Moult at the heart of it two away games running.
The super-sub struck in similar circumstances against Hull City on Saturday, leaving his rescue act this time until deep into stoppage-time.
His goal earned North End a point and you’d probably say it robbed the hosts of victory.
The fact Hull were denied by the woodwork three times and by three Chris Maxwell saves, supports the theory that PNE might have got away with this one.
Any point is most welcome at the moment though, this a third game unbeaten.
Five points in that period might not exactly be title form but after the start North End had made to the season, it is progress.
The draw moved them out of the bottom three, albeit on goal difference, with two home matches to come.
If Preston could meet the challenge of taking maximum points from Brentford and Rotherham, the league table will make for better reading.
Somehow this clash stayed goalless until the 85th minute, Hull going in front from the penalty spot.
But if they had left it late to trouble the scorers, North End outshone them on that front.
The finale wasn’t quite on the scale of Villa but Moult’s last-gasp effort did have the heart pumping.
It certainly delighted PNE’s biggest away support of the campaign, more than 1,200 watching on from a corner of the KCOM Stadium as their side pulled one out of the bag.
How this game got to the stage of needing two late goals to catch light, goodness only knows.
Preston created three good chances in the opening stages which they bossed.
But that gave way to a spell of Hull being on top, helped it must said by some of the visitors’ play which was sloppy to say the least.
The hosts rattled the post and bar in the first half, then hit the post after the break or rather Jordan Storey did on their behalf.
It was more a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the ball hitting him on the head as he rushed back to try and cut out another dangerous Hull attack.
Storey was later to give away the penalty – albeit a soft one – from which Hull nosed in front.
But don’t think this was some kind of horror show from the centre-half, in fact he was rather good until then.
He will learn from the experience and be better for it.
Storey, 21, was part of a young side which took to the field, the average age of North End’s starting XI a shade above 23.
At 28, goalkeeper Maxwell was the daddy of the team until the arrival of Paul Gallagher in the second half from the bench.
Tom Clarke who would have raised the average age by a few notches, was forced to sit it out because of a groin injury, Tom Barkhuizen joining him on the injured list.
Illness restricted Callum Robinson to a subs’ role, Ben Pearson missing due to suspension.
So just when Alex Neil thought he was getting close to something that resembled a strong squad, he was back down to the bare bones on Humberside.
So much so, 16-year-old Ethan Walker was excused youth-team duty and whisked across the M62 on Saturday morning to be on stand-by for the bench in case the under-the-weather Robinson didn’t feel up to it.
Neil went with a 4-2-3-1 system, Ryan Ledson playing the holding role in midfield in the absence of Pearson.
There was a start for Maguire, a game or two earlier than expected.
But with Robinson on the bench and Barkhuizen absent, Maguire was needed to play one of the wide roles.
Brandon Barker was used on the other side.
For quarter of an hour, you could have few complaints about Preston’s play.
The one moan was that they didn’t have an early goal to show for the chances they created.
Alan Browne, skippering the side in Clarke’s absence, headed wide, Lukas Nmecha put an effort the wrong side of the near post and Ben Davies saw a shot saved.
It was almost as if a switch was flicked after the quarter hour mark, leading to North End’s play becoming ragged.
Ledson, Daniel Johnson and Andrew Hughes were all to give the ball away as the half went on, the home side creating chances on the back of them.
DJ’s loss of possession was to lead to Chris Martin putting a header against the bar when it looked easier to score.
That was the second time the frame of the goal had been struck in five minutes, Reece Burke’s shot having come back off the post.
Eric Lichaj somehow missed the target in first-half stoppage-time, lifting a shot over the bar from six yards.
The starting point for that chance was Hughes running into traffic and losing the ball.
Maxwell saved well from Jarrod Bowen and either side of that denied Kamil Grosicki.
North End improved with introductions from the bench, in particular Gallagher and Moult made impacts.
They looked to be getting on top when Moult met Browne’s ball into the box and saw his header tipped over by David Marshall.
But Hull went in front with five minutes of regulation time left, Martin going to ground as Storey leaned into him as they moved to meet Burke’s cross.
As it was, Davies’ deflection on the cross had taken the ball beyond them both.
Referee Gavin Ward gave a penalty and booked Storey rather harshly.
Bowen sent Maxwell the wrong way with a confident finish from the spot and the three points looked set to stay on the east coast.
But when Davies won the ball off Dan Batty with a strong tackle in midfield, Browne seized possession and steered a pass out to Fisher.
The right-back’s low cross was jumped over by Barker and ran through to Moult.
His first touch saw the ball flick up against his shin, his second saw him drill a low shot into the net.