Barnsley 0 PNE 0
It was an entertaining and feisty affair in South Yorkshire , but once again with some controversial decision making by the match official, with North End denied what seemed to everyone in the ground a blatant first half penalty when Jordan Hugill was wrestled to the floor when through on goal by Barnsley skipper Marc Roberts.
Both sides began the game with a 4-4-2 formation, determined to make use of the flanks and feed their two front men, who in the case of North End were Simon Makienok in partnership with Hugill.
After a slow opening spell which only saw a Cunningham block from Kent’s shot North End came to life. They almost went ahead 21 minutes in, in fortuitous circumstances when Aiden McGeady’s deflected cross from the right took a wicked deflection almost was inches away from drifting in at the back post.
Moments later a Paul Gallagher left footed cross from the byline found Makienok, who got in a good header from 12 yards out, but it was straight into chest of home keeper Adam Davies.
As the half wore on it was all the blue-shirted visitors and some great football from North End saw former Tyke Ben Pearson win the ball in his own half, find Gallagher, who with a first time ball sent Hugill into a right hand channel; his shot beat Davies, along the floor, but also beat the left hand upright.
Just before the break came the controversy though as Hugill should have been awarded a penalty when Roberts brought him down in the box when clean through on goal – it was a stonewall penalty – and another difficult decision for the Lilywhites to take, but referee Oliver Langford saw nothing wrong.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first when Hugill made a driving run down the right and put a ball across the face of goal, only for it to be flicked out by Davies – the initial release of the striker was some quick thinking by McGeady.
Just before the hour mark a there was a free kick in a promising position. The ball was left to Gallagher after McGeady has been brought down on the edge of the box. It was superbly curled over the wall, sending the keeper the wrong way, but flashed inches past the left hand post.
The home side’s best chance came on 68 minutes when Greg Cunningham cleared off the line at the back post from Marley Watkins and Makienok cleaned up.
But in stoppage time it looked like North End had won it when Jordan Hugill got on the end of a loose ball in the box and headed towards the top right hand corner only for Davies to deny the No.25 with a brilliant save, at full stretch making a finger-tip stop to push the ball behind.
Barnsley line-up: Davies, Jones, Elder, Roberts (c), MacDonald, Scowen, James, Watkins, Kent (Hedges, 82), Bradshaw (Hammill, 69), Armstrong. Subs not used: Townsend, Evans, Jackson, Moncur, Lee.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Browning, Cunningham, Pearson, Clarke (c), Huntington, Gallagher (Robinson, 66), Browne, Makienok (Beckford, 72), Hugill, McGeady. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Vermijl, Horgan, Johnson, Barkhuizen.
Attendance: 12,519 (1,269 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr O Langford