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Match Report


Posted Mon 09 Apr 12 at 17:09 PM

Stevenage 1 PNE 1

A stoppage time goal from Mark Roberts denied manager Graham Westley a deserved winning return to former club Stevenage on Easter Monday.

Substitute Iain Hume looked to have sealed all three points for North End five minutes, scoring the first ever goal between the two sides but Boro hit back in the cruelest of fashion when Roberts headed home from three-yards.

The PNE players can take confidence from the performance, and have put in two sterling performances in three days, with the travelling North End fans showing their appreciation to the players by giving them a standing ovation at the final whistle.

Manager Westley made two changes from the draw against MK Dons only two days ago, with defender Nicky Hunt and striker Iain Hume replaced in the starting line-up by David Gray and Chuks Aneke.

Canadian international Hume went amongst the Preston substitutes for the Lilywhites first trip to the Lamex Stadium, whilst former Premier League star Hunt missed out through injury.

Play-Off hopefuls Stevenage handed a start to former PNE striker Patrick Agyemang, who scored 21 goals for the Club in over 100 appearances.

Highly rated left back Scott Laird had the first chance of the game with eight minutes gone in Hertfordshire, finding space at the far post, Laird turned and hit a close range shot wide of the mark.

Two minutes later, North End had their first sight on goal with a cleverly worked set-piece straight from the Springfields training ground.

30-yards from goal on the left hand side, winger Danny Mayor rolled the ball to the edge of the penalty box for the awaiting Aneke.

Taking a heavy first touch, Aneke ended up rushing his shot and curled an effort straight into the hands of former North End stopper Chris Day.

The hosts will have fought they had the lead in the 12th minute when 31-year-old Agyemang was presented a golden opportunity to punish his former team he once enjoyed great success with.

The speedy frontman raced through on goal after Bailey Wright lost his footing on a slippy surface at the Lamex Stadium, driving into the penalty box, Agyemang found space in-between two sliding challenges to hit the ball narrowly over the bar.

However, North End arguably created the best opening inside the opening thirty minutes, when Chris Holroyd and Max Ehmer linked up well on the edge of the penalty box to put Aneke in on goal, but the youngster was off the balance resulting in his shot been turned round the post by Day.

Lawrie Wilson was looking a handful down the right hand side, as he broke through to lift a shot over the bar in the 32nd minute.

The first half came to a close with play mostly contested in the middle of the park, with Luke Freeman having the final chance of the half when he forced Thorsten Stuckmann into a low save from 15-yards.

However the score remained goalless heading into the half time break with everything still to play for in the second half.

It took 12 minutes of the second half for the ball to get rolling once again as Scottish midfielder Paul Coutts burst down the right flank to put a testing cross into the middle, but captain Roberts got back in time to clear for a corner kick.

It was becoming a feisty affair at the Lamex Stadium, with tackles flying in from both sets of players and North End coach Dino Maamria was sent to the stands after a disagreement with the Stevenage bench.

The travelling all blacks were defending proudly, limiting the hosts to long range shots with Joel Byrom and Bostwick having to shoot from 35-yards out, but neither tested North End's giant German.

QPR loan star Max Ehmer will have thought he had scored his first goal in Preston North End colours in the 70th minute after PNE produced the best passage of play so far in the bank holiday clash.

Linking up well, Ehmer played a pinpoint pass through the Stevenage backline for Holroyd to latch onto. Preventing the ball from going out of play, Holroyd played a first time cross into the middle for Ehmer to slide in and strike the bar over the bar.

Two minutes later and Westley rang the changes, Jamie Proctor and Hume coming on for strike pair Aneke and Holroyd.

PNE continued to put the pressure on after the double change, and Proctor's persistence to chase down a loose ball ended up in the striker putting in a slide challenge on Jon Ashton to keep the ball in play.

Number seven Hume wasn't far behind and the Canadian international came steaming in but was met by a stern challenge from keeper Day who cleared the danger.

In the 85th minute, Preston's attacking play finally reaped the rewards when they took a deserved lead as Hume scored his 102 league career goal to send the 473 travelling North End delirious.

The goal came from a superb run from Mayor, after his quick feet saw the Leyland born star get away from Ronnie Henry, cutting inside the 21-year-old clipped a through ball to Hume, who did the rest and slotted the ball past Day.

However in the dying stages of the game, Stevenage dealt Preston with a sucker punch as they leveled matters at the Lamex Stadium.

Three minutes into stoppage time, captain Roberts was left unmarked in the penalty box to head home from three-yards out but despite the late equaliser the North End supporters showed their full appreciation for the players efforts, with victory cruelly snatched from their grasp.

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