PNE 1 Ipswich Town 1
The North End top scorer grabbed his ninth goal of the season against the side who had seen two bids knocked back for the Teeside-born forward’s services in the last seven days.
The visitors had gone ahead early in the first half, when on loan winger Tom Lawrence struck with a well-taken goal from a narrow angle, but it was one of few chances for Mick McCarthy’s side.
Simon Grayson welcomed back the energy and bite of Ben Pearson to his midfield, in what was the only change to the side that had collected a point at Villa Park the previous weekend, the former Manchester United man now free of suspension.
And his endeavours in the opening minutes saw him win the ball and feed Aiden McGeady on the left hand touchline. In almost a repeat of the equaliser in the second city the previous week, his left wing cross found Hugill ten yards out, but the No.25 was unable to keep the ball down and it flew just over Bartosz Bialkowski’s cross bar.
The Tractor Boys went ahead on the 16 minute mark as Lawrence, on loan from Leicester City, beaten two men on the left hand byline, before checking back to give himself room to arrow a shot into the top right hand corner from 15 yards out, giving Maxwell no chance.
The goalkeeper was a spectator for much of the half, but did make one fine save with his legs five minutes before the interval after Freddie Sears had broken down the left channel and held off Marnick Vermijl, only for the Welsh stopper’s back leg to divert the former West Ham man’s poked effort out for a corner.
The home side’s best chance to level before the break came again from the left wing. McGeady had been at the heart of everything positive from PNE and his pace and trickery allowed him space to deliver another cross, this time the deep ball found Pearson who struck a vicious volley that seemed destined to nestle in the top left hand corner, however, it unfortunately hit team-mate Hugill and went behind for the goal kick.
After half-time break North End emerged revitalised and were on the front foot from the off and perhaps should have been back on parity five minutes in. The ball was kept well and passed with precision and pace, probing for an opening and eventually Paul Gallagher played a clever reverse ball from just right of the ‘D’ to find Callum Robinson a couple of yards to the left of the penalty spot, however, the No.37 couldn’t get any real purchase on the shot and it was straight at the visitors’ goalkeeper.
The No.33 between the sticks for the Blues was in fine form and with 16 minutes left he made another save – probably his best of the afternoon – getting down to divert a vicious strike from McGeady behind for the corner, after the Irish international had collected a lay off from substitute Jermaine Beckford and smashed his shot from 18 yards at the target.
This save preceded an intense period of pressure from the whites, with the best of a trio of corners falling to skipper Tom Clarke, only for Christophe Berra to somehow deflect his close-range header over the bar.
It looked like being a frustrating afternoon for Grayson and his men, despite them throwing the kitchen sink at Ipswich, with Makienok and Horgan on and even Clarke thrown into the mix in the closing stages and the Alamo finally got its rewards with 90 second left of normal time.
Horgan picked up a recycled ball on the left hand side and delivered into the edge of the six yard box, where Hugill had found a small pocket of space and controlled the ball well before firing hard and low into the middle of the goal, much to the delight of the North End faithful, who had stayed with the team on the cold, wet afternoon.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Vermijl (Makienok, 77), Spurr, Pearson, Clarke (c), Huntington, Gallagher (Beckford, 65), Johnson, Robinson (Horgan, 58), Hugill, McGeady. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Browne, Pringle, Boyle.
Ipswich Town line-up: Bialkowski, Knudsen, Chambers (c), Berra, Skuse, Pitman (McGoldrick, 74), Ward, Sears (Moore, 80), Lawrence, Emmanuel, Diagouraga (Bru, 57). Subs not used: Gerken, Bishop, Spence, Digby.
Attendance: 10,656 (365 Ipswich Town fans)
Referee: Mr S Martin