Match report: PNE 1 Nottingham Forest 1

Paul Huntington netted his first goal of the season to earn Preston North End a draw with Nottingham Forest at Deepdale.

Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 4:06 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 5:35 pm
Paul Huntington celebrates scoring PNE's equaliser

Centre-half Huntington struck with a low shot from the edge of the box in the 75th minute, pulling the Lilywhites level after Ben Brereton had put the visitors ahead with a goal on the counter-attack just before the hour mark.

The draw stretched North End's unbeaten run to seven matches and lifted them a place higher up the Championship table to eighth.

Alex Neil's men had the better of the play and the chances but Forest always looked lively on the break.

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PNE boss Alex Neil

This was the visitors' first draw of the season, their last one had come here against PNE in early April.

Neil had made two changes to the side which had started last week's win over Sheffield United, Alan Browne replacing Daniel Johnson in midfield and Kevin O'Connor coming in for the injured Darnell Fisher at left-back.

Before kicik-off, there was a minute's silence to remember Preston supporters who had passed away in 2017, this being the final home game of the year.

The game's first chance fell to Browne, a punched clearance from keeper Jordan Smith after Paul Gallagher had put the ball into the box, falling to the midfielder.

Jordan Hugill wins a challenge in the air

Browne kept his shot low, the ball hitting Smith on the legs and looping over the bar for a corner.

Referee Scott Duncan was forced off injured after 20 minutes, with him replaced by fourth official Matt Donohue - Mr Duncan took up fourth official duties.

As North End applied some pressure, Gallagher's cross to the far post was met in the air by Jordan Hugill, his glancing header back inside saved by Smith.

The home side should have gone ahead in the 26th minute, Gallagher's free-kick from the right channel finding Huntington in acres of space after he had stolen in front of the Forest defence.

PNE boss Alex Neil

But the Cumbrian Cannavaro got his angles all wrong and sent a header high and wide.

Forest began to show themselves as more of an attacking force as the first half went on, a good chance falling their way when Ben Osborn's cross dropped beyond the back post to Kieran Dowell.

He tried to squeeze a shot inside the far post but Maxwell got across to claw it behind for a corner.

As half-time approached, Mustapha Carayol beat Tom Clarke down the Forest left, his low shot fumbled behind at the near post by Maxwell.

Jordan Hugill wins a challenge in the air

A sweeping PNE move almost delivered a goal in the second minute of stoppage-time at the end of the first half, Tom Barkhuizen and Hugill linking well to tee-up Callum Robinson.

His low curling shot from the edge of the box looked destined for the bottom corner until Smith dived to his left to glove it behind.

Forest broke the deadlock in the 58th minute, catching North End on the counter-attack.

The hosts thought they should have a free-kick not far outside the visitors' box for a handball but Mr O'Donohue waved play on.

Up the pitch swept Forest, Liam Bridcutt's pass finding Dowell who played Brereton clear of the Preston defence.

The teenager moved into the box and hit a low shot which Maxwell got something on but not enough to prevent it rolling in.

Daryl Horgan entered the action at this point in place of Robinson, having been getting ready to come on before the goal.

Soon after, Josh Harrop replaced Browne as Neil looked to break open the Forest rearguard.

PNE's equaliser in the 75th minute came via an unlikely source, it being Huntington's first goal since January and with his left foot too.

When the Forest defence failed to deal with Barkhuizen's long throw-in into the box, the ball fell to the centre-half in the 'D' on the edge of the box.

Huntington stepped across his man and hit a low left-foot shot which beat Smith and nestled in the bottom corner.

Late in the piece, a Barkhuizen long throw-in was flicked on by Huntington and hit Clarke, the ball going wide.

And deep into stoppage-time, Harrop wasted a good opportunity from a free-kick just outside the box, slicing his effort wide.

PNE: Maxwell, Clarke, Huntington, Davies, O'Connor, Pearson, Gallagher, Barkhuizen, Browne (Harrop 62), Robinson (Horgan 59), Hugill. Subs (not used): Boyle, Johnson, Welsh, Mavididi, Rudd.

Forest: Smith, Lichaj, Mancienne, Worrall, Osborn, Bridcutt, Vaughan (Bouchalakis 84), Carayol (Cash 62), Dowell, Brereton (Ward 62), Murphy. Subs (not used): Traore, McKay, Clough, Henderson.

Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland)

Attendance: 13,481 (1,210 away)