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Match Report


Posted Sat 21 Apr 12 at 17:02 PM

Oldham 1 PNE 1

Chris Holroyd scored his first goal for the Club to secure a well-earned point for Preston North End against neighbours Oldham Athletic.

The point at Boundary Park ensures North End's safety in League One with two games remaining and continued the Lilywhites' unbeaten run to four matches.

Winger Robbie Simpson handed Oldham midway through the second half, but Preston bravely fought back and Holroyd earned the visitors a point with just over ten minutes remaining.

Manager Graham Westley made two changes to his side that lined up against Oldham Athletic, Craig Morgan and Graham Cummins replacing the injured Iain Hume and Paul Parry.

There was a place amongst the bench for striker Rhys Murphy after his goal heroics against Macclesfield Town in the reserves on Tuesday.

The hosts, aware that three points against PNE would ensure their status in League One for another season, named Harry Bunn on the bench, the youngster on loan at Boundary Park until the end of the campaign.

Donning their full black away strip for the last time this season, North End made a promising start in Greater Manchester, with a strong following from Lancashire cheering the Lilywhites on.

With Holroyd and Paul Coutts quickly establishing a strong partnership on the right hand side, the visitors held Oldham inside their own half in the opening 15 minutes of play.

The first shot on goal for PNE came from holding midfielder Max Ehmer, with Coutts shouting for the ball on the right in acres of space, the QPR youngster opted to go for a goal, but his 25-yard effort was easy for Dean Bouzanis to collect.

However, the hosts, who rarely threatened in the opening stages, should have taken the lead at Boundary Park, with Simpson clutching his head in despair after squandering a golden opportunity.

The chance came about when striker Oumare Tounkara threaded a through ball into the path of Simpson on the left hand side.

Driving into the penalty box, Simpson attempted to curl the ball into the top left hand corner, but his effort sailed over the bar and into the cheering away supporters behind the goal.

Simpson's effort seemed to have a positive effect on the hosts, and they started to find their feet, with Tounkara climbing above the North End defence to power a Filipie Morais cross over Thorsten Stuckmann's bar.

On the half hour mark, Holroyd's persistence and work ethic earned him a sight on goal, and North End's popular number 37 came close to breaking his deadlock for the Club.

Irish striker Cummins flicked on a Stuckmann long ball into the feet of Holroyd on the right hand side. Cutting inside on his favourable right foot, Holroyd aimed for the bottom right hand corner only for Bouzanis to tip round the post.

The danger wasn't yet quite over for the Latics, and moments later Welsh international Morgan was left unmarked inside the six-yard box to head wide a Danny Mayor corner.

The Boundary Park surface was certainly playing its part, with the ball bouncing all over the place, leaving players on both sides looking frustrated.

Both teams were creating opportunities on goal in the first half, but neither goalkeeper yet fully tested, Oldham's Simpson again trying his luck from the left wing, however his shot drifted wide of the mark.

The half time whistled shortly followed, with the score remaining goal less and everything still to play for in the second half.

The second half began with more urgency with the first, and within seven minutes of the restart Oldham broke forward two against one after they cleared a Preston corner.

With only David Gray back for PNE, powerful striker Shefki Kuqi ran at the former Manchester United full back.

In two minds what to do with the ball, either to go alone or pass to Tounkara, defender Gray stalled the striker expertly until his team mates got back in time to help clear, leaving the Oldham supporters not happy with their top goal scorer.

1373 North End fans continued to get behind their team, in the day marked 'Thorsten Stuckmann Day' to commemorate the goalkeeper's efforts this season.

In the 60th minute, the gaffer made his first change, Cummins withdrawn for number nine Jamie Proctor.

Oldham broke the deadlock in the 68th minute as Simpson made it third time lucky after heading home a simple set-piece routine, which will have not pleased Westley.

Captain Andy Procter gave away a free-kick on the left hand side, 25-yards from goal. Ex-Chelsea midfielder Morais delivered a cross to the front post were Simpson was waiting to send an unstoppable header past Stuckmann.

Minutes after the goal, PNE made their second change of the afternoon, Chuks Aneke replacing Procter, as the Lilywhites pushed on for an equalising goal.

PNE didn't let their heads drop, and with 12 minutes remaining Holroyd scored his first goal for the Club after superb work from local boys Proctor and Mayor.

Proctor characteristically used his power to drive past two Oldham defenders and flicked the ball out wide to Mayor.

Taking a superb touch, Mayor beat Reece Brown inside the penalty box to put a hanging cross to the back post for Holroyd to climb above a number of blue and black shirts and head from point blank range into an open goal.

The final Preston change came in the 90th minute, Mayor, who picked up his fourth assist in as many games withdrawn for experienced defender Nicky Hunt.

North End could have won the game with the final touch late in stoppage time, substitute Aneke heading over a Coutts corner.

The full time whistle followed straight after as PNE made it four games unbeaten in League One.

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