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Match Reports

Brentford 1 Preston North End 1

10 February 2018

North End picked up their first point at Griffin Park since 2011 despite finishing the game with ten men.

Tom Barkhuizen had given the Lilywhites a second half lead with a cross-cum-shot from the left, only for Florian Jozefzoon to equalise.

Greg Cunningham was sent off for two bookings in the space of 90 seconds, making for a nervy final 15 minutes, but Alex Neil’s side battled hard to earn a deserved point.

Skipper Tom Clarke was missing, as well as the suspended Ben Pearson, with Tommy Spurr making his first start since September, and Daniel Johnson also returning to the starting line-up.

Whilst the hosts had more of the possession in the first half, it was the green-clad visitors who had much the better of the chances.

In the early stages Barkhuizen saw two shots blocked, the first from a Callum Robinson pull back and the second from Darnell Fisher’s ball across from the right. They were two good chances and saw some excellent defending by Bees skipper John Egan on both occasions to keep Daniel Bentley from being tested.

Billy Bodin then had a shot from a Paul Gallagher cross after a Daniel Johnson short corner, which was blocked over bar for a corner.

A controversial moment, the first of a number on the afternoon that left Neil perplexed after the game, came 16 minutes in. Some excellent pressing from Gallagher and Robinson saw them hassle their way through on goal only for Josh McEachran, who had been robbed of the ball by the pair, rugby tackling Robinson to the ground, who would have been through on goal. A yellow card came out, but it seemed to most that a red should have been issued.

The second very disputable decision came on 27 minutes. A free kick was awarded out on the left and Gallagher delivered a superb ball into around the penalty spot where Spurr rose superbly and powered a header into the top left hand corner of the goal. Replays showed the Brentford left back had played him clearly onside, but the linesman’s flag had gone up and the goal was chalked off.

Declan Rudd had been a spectator for much of the first half, but made a fine save to keep his side level just before half-time. Neal Maupay was played through the middle of the goal and went through one-on-one with the North End ’keeper who stayed big and made a fine save with his leg to divert the ball behind.

The opening goal came ten minutes after the interval. A cushioned Cunningham header found Barkhuizen on the left flank, he cut back onto his right foot just to the left of the penalty area and delivered a superb cross that Callum Robinson tried to get his head on, but it evaded everyone and fired into the inside side-netting on the right of the goal, much to the delight of the fantastic and vocal travelling fans.

However, the lead only lasted seven minutes. A throw in on the right was fed into Jozefzoon inside the penalty area. He looked to have controlled the ball with his arm, but was allowed to continue, spinning and shooting low into the bottom right hand corner, giving Rudd no chance.

With 15 minutes to go the third of the moments that left people questioning the officiating came. Bentley, the home custodian ran into the back of Cunningham, with the North End captain for the day getting a very harsh booking and then less than 90 seconds later was again punished for a foul on the Bees goalscorer and referee Simon Hooper was quick to pull out a second yellow card, swiftly followed by the red.

North End were now forced backwards, but battled tremendously, putting bodies on the line and denying their hosts any real chances.

The best opportunity for the Bees came three minutes from time when substitute Calum Woods was again harshly adjudged to have brought down Jozefzoon and Alan Judge, just on for Brentford, stepped up and curled a free kick over the wall, but against the post and away to safety. Five minutes was then added on, to extend the wait, but the final whistle was greeted with a fantastic reception from the following PNE faithful after another determined display.

Brentford line-up: Bentley, Bjelland, Jozefzoon, Yennaris, Maupay (Marcondes, 74), McEachran (Macleod, 80), Watkins, Egan (c), Sawyers (Judge, 74), Clarke, Dalsgaard. Subs not used: Daniels, Mokotjo, Ogbene, Barbet.

PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Cunningham (c), Johnson, Huntington, Spurr, Bodin (Horgan, 89), Gallagher (Welsh, 66), Robinson (Woods, 76), Browne, Barkhuizen. Subs not used: Maxwell, Harrop, Moult, Earl.

Attendance: 9,194 (1,042 PNE fans)

Referee: Mr S Hooper

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