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Match Reports

Preston North End 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

17 February 2018

North End had to play with ten men for 35 minutes for the second week in a row, but claimed a point against high-flying Wolves at Deepdale.

Alex Neil’s Lilywhites extended their record to just one defeat in the last 16 Championship games, with Alan Browne putting them ahead shortly after half-time with a powerful header.

However, John Welsh saw red for a second bookable offence just before the hour mark and after a couple of lucky ricochets Helder Costa levelled matters.

But a resolute rear guard action from the home side and a couple of excellent late saves from Declan Rudd meant they got a deserved draw against Nuno Espirito Santos’ league leaders.

The North End manager was without Tom Clarke and Paul Gallagher with knocks and they joined the suspended Ben Pearson and Greg Cunningham on the sidelines, meaning a very experienced quartet was unavailable.

It meant a place on the bench for 16-year-old Irish midfielder Adam O’Reilly and a return to the side for Josh Earl, with Ben Davies also back from injury and illness at the heart of the defence alongside the day’s skipper Paul Huntington.

The organisation, that would later become even more important, was evident from the off from PNE, restricting the opportunities of the expensively assembled forwards from the Black Country.

The chances, when they came, were North End’s, the best of which in the first half coming the way of the returning Davies, who met Callum Robinson’s left wing corner at the back post, but could only direct his header just wide of the right hand post.

The second half saw the home side out of the blocks quickly and were much the better side in those opening 15 minutes of the latter period.

Inside the first 45 seconds there was a big shout for penalty, for handball, as Tom Barkhuizen raced down the left and drilled the ball across into box, seemingly bouncing up and hitting visiting skipper Conor Coady on the arm, however, the claims were waved away.

The men in lilywhite were getting closer though and three minutes later Browne burst down the right hand side of the penalty area, onto the box and drilled a low shot that beat John Ruddy, but came back out off the left hand post.

But the Irish No.8 didn’t have to wait long to see the net bulge. In the 52nd minute a long throw in from Barkhuizen was headed up in the air by Huntington and on the volley Darnell Fisher saw a vicuous effort deflect over the bar for a corner.

And from that superbly taken left wing corner in front of the Alan Kelly Town End, Robinson delivered to the back post and Browne rose above his marker to power a header past Ruddy and into the net to raise the already high level volume within PR1.

However, their task of maintaining that lead was made a little more difficult when John Welsh, who had been booked for a tackle on Diogo Jota in the first half, was adjudged to have brought down a Wolves attacker on the half way line and given a second caution by referee Rob Jones and sent off on 59 minutes.

The visitors were level two minutes later, but it took a huge slice of luck. Helder Costa ran down the right hand side and burst through two tackles, getting two lucky ricochets into his path before firing hard and low into the bottom left hand corner from 12 yards out, Declan Rudd having no chance.

Rudd was protected excellently by the men in front of him in the following 29 plus four added minutes, but he was called upon five minutes before the end of normal time. Substitute Benik Afobe found himself through, one on one and the North End No.1 came out and superbly smothered the ball to force a corner, from which the ball came out to Ruben Neves, and his effort from 25 yards was again kept out by the North End stopper, as they held on for a deserved draw.

PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Earl, Welsh, Huntington (c), Davies, Bodin, Johnson (Harrop, 88), Robinson (Horgan, 70), Browne, Barkhuizen (Moult, 88). Subs not used: Maxwell, Woods, Spurr, O’Reilly.

Wolverhampton Wanderers line-up: Ruddy, Doherty, Douglas, N’Diaye (Afobe, 62), Bennett, Cavaleiro (Bonatini, 89), Neves, Boly, Coady (c), Costa (Saiss, 81), Jota. Subs not used: Norris, Batth, Gibbs-White, Miranda.

Attendance: 18,570 (5,626 Wolverhampton Wanderers fans)

Referee: Mr R Jones

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