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Match Reports

Preston North End 2 Wycombe Wanderers 2

5 December 2020

Tom Barkhuizen scored his fourth goal in five games, but it needed a late own goal for the Lilywhites to take a point against Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers.

Alex Neil’s side had taken a deserved early lead through the No.29’s opportunism, but second half strikes from Garath McCleary and Scott Kashket put the Chairboys in front.

However, as they came under immense pressure in the closing stages, Jason McCarthy turned Scott Sinclair’s cross past his own ’keeper, before two big opportunities went begging in the injury time for the home side to get the win.

Paul Huntington replaced the injured Patrick Bauer in the only change from Tuesday night’s win at Bournemouth and with the boost of that victory behind them, North End had the chance to get off to a blistering start when Scott Sinclair wriggled through and had space 15 yards out to shoot, missing the left-hand post by a matter of inches just 35 seconds in.

But they had the lead on 14 minutes as a great low long ball from Declan Rudd was flicked on by Sean Maguire and Barkhuizen latched onto it, seeing an initial shot blocked, with Maguire’s follow up going up in the air, with Josh Knight trying to nod it back to Ryan Allsop in the visitors’ goal, only for Barkhuizen to anticipate and nip in to head over the goalkeeper and into the net for his sixth goal of the season.

The goal brought an air of confidence about the PNE play, as they moved the ball quickly and mid-way through the half Joe Rafferty found Ryan Ledson, who in turn fed Sinclair. The former Celtic man found Maguire on the left overlap, with the Irishman pulling the ball back to Daniel Johnson 15 yards out, but his goalbound effort was blocked by Anthony Stewart.

However, just after the hour mark the injury problems returned, with Ben Pearson going over, with no player around him, looking like he had turned his ankle and he was helped from the field; Josh Harrop replacing the No.4.

Ainsworth’s men capitalised on this and finished the half strongly, a brilliant Ben Davies block on the line keeping out an effort from Knight and Ledson made another stop to keep out McCleary. PNE’s No.1 was also needed to make a save, Declan making a superb one-on-one stop to keep out a strike from Kashket, who drove in from the left just before the interval.

And they got level three minutes after the break as former PNE man Daryl Horgan made a slide rule pass into the right-hand side of the penalty area, with McCleary collecting the ball and driving a right-footed effort into the top right-hand corner of the Bill Shankly Kop goal.

The Lilywhites were close to being back in front less than two minutes later, with both centre halves going close. Davies’ header was headed off the line from a Harrop corner and from Maguire’s ball back in, Alssop saved from Huntington.

Just after the hour mark a corner was won by block from a Johnson shot, after good hold up play by Emil Riis – on for Maguire – after a quick throw in from Barkhuizen on the right.

The visitors went ahead with 15 minutes left with Kashket following up from free kick from Joe Jacobson that hit the post, firing into empty net.

The equaliser came with three minutes of normal time remaining, with two more substitutes involved. Brad Potts broke down the right and spread the ball further wide to Sinclair, who delivered a low cross into the six yard box when McCarthy put the ball past Allsop, under pressure from Jayden Stockley.

Seven minutes was added on and within that period – which could have been much longer given the time taken by Allsop to take any set piece in the Chairboys goal – there were two chances to win the game.

Firstly, two minutes in, Riis ran onto a ball over the top in a right-hand channel, with Stockley up for support. The two were bearing down on Allsop’s goal, with McCarthy between then, but with the Dane set to shoot the ball took a bobble and the effort flew wide.

But there was to be another opportunity in the penultimate minute of the game as Ledson did well on the left-hand corner of the area, to create space to deliver a low ball into the six yard box that was not properly cleared, again falling to Riis, but he was unable to get his left-footed effort on goal and the game finished 2-2.

PNE line-up: Rudd, Browne (c), Rafferty (Stockley, 73), Pearson (Harrop, 32), Huntington, Davies, Barkhuizen, Ledson, Maguire (Riis, 61), Johnson (Potts, 73), Sinclair. Subs not used: Ripley, Bayliss, Storey, Holland-Wilkinson, O’Reilly.

Wycombe Wanderers line-up: Allsop, Grimmer, Jacobson, Stewart (Wheeler, 67), Kashket, Knight, Horgan (Bloomfield, 78), McCleary, Akinfenwa (c) (Samuel, 84), Onyedinma (Freeman, 78), McCarthy. Subs not used: Stockdale, Pattison, Parker, Mehmeti, Burley.

Referee: Mr J Linington

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