Preston North End vs Wycombe Wanderers – Match Report

Preston North End rescued a point late on in a 2-2 draw against Wycombe Wanderers at Deepdale on Saturday.

After a surprise win against Bournemouth in the week, Alex Neil was only forced into making one change with veteran defender Paul Huntington replacing Patrick Bauer who picked up an Achilles injury on Tuesday.

Wycombe, narrowly beaten by Stoke in front of 2000 returning fans at Adams Park on Wednesday, made two changes with Scott Kashket and experienced Championship front man Gareth Mclearly returning to the side. Manager Gareth Ainsworth and winger Daryl Horgan, both former Lilywhites, were hoping to pull the Chair Boys out of the relegation places.

Preston dominated possession early and had the first chance when Sinclair did well to bring down Ryan Ledson’s ball. He shimmied past a defender before flashing his shot wide.

Wycombe responded as Horgan made himself busy down the left, whipping in a cross that was seen behind for a corner. From the set piece, Ben Davies’ clearance only found Fred Onyedinma who blasted over.

Wycombe were working their way into the game well with Adebayo Akinfenwa causing issues for the Preston defenders. Mcleary had a chance blocked, but perhaps their best chance was when Joe Jacobsen’s free kick found Anthony Stewart who headed narrowly over.

Despite the pressure Preston found themselves ahead. From a long ball, Jack Grimmer scuffed his header behind finding Barkhuizen who fired past Ryan Allsop. Barkhuizen who has scored four in his last five games gave Preston hope for a second home win of the campaign.

Preston could’ve had a second soon after, but Sean Maguire’s shot in the centre of the box was blocked. He returned the favour to Daniel Johnson, but the Jamaican’s shot was also met by a Wycombe defender.

The best Wycombe could muster in response, was when Kashket found space but fired his shot wide. Another Jacobsen delivery soon after was met with an Akinfenwa header, but it was well over.

Preston were struck a blow after half an hour when key midfielder Ben Pearson was forced off with an injury. Josh Harrop a former product of the Manchester United Academy came on in his place.

Shortly after, Gareth Ainsworth’s side should have been level. Kashket sold Huntington with a lovely piece of skill, through one on one he couldn’t find the finish and Declan Rudd rushed out to deny him.

The last chance of any note in the first half was when Barkhuizen burst forward sliding an excellent pass to Maguire whose shot was well cleared behind for a corner. The Whites led at the break.

Wycombe flew out of the traps in the second half and soon found themselves level. Daryl Horgan found space to work the ball forward and played in Mcleary who fired in at the near post.

The Lilywhite’s, visibly unnerved by the equaliser, had a string of chances in response. Ledson worked crosses into the box for both Sinclair and Davies but their efforts were dealt with. Then the ball was whipped in and met by Huntington at the back post but it was saved comfortably, he should’ve done better.

Preston could’ve been punished again for not taking these chances with Mcleary and Kashket both scuffing good opportunities to take the lead. They were struck a blow of their own however when Anthony Stewart, integral to their promotion last season, was forced off after an awkward fall trying to clear the ball from a corner. David Wheeler replaced him.

Wycombe were not shaken though and went ahead soon after. Jacobsen fired a free kick off the post and Kashket was unmarked to fire home the rebound. Wycombe were heading to their second Championship victory

Preston’s response was route one, with Emil Riis Jakobsen and Jayden Stockley both being introduced. They just couldn’t seem to create anything.

Then with three minutes to go, Sinclair powered up the right. His cross was short but cannoned off Wycombe’s Jason McCarthy. A head in hands moment for the visitors but a huge breath of relief for the hosts.

Preston should’ve taken the points in the dying minutes when Riis Jakobsen found himself in, he could’ve played in Stockley but his shot skewed wide. Dom Samuel had Wycombe’s last sighter but his header missed and the game ended 2-2.

It seems like one step forward, three steps back for Preston, who failed to build on Tuesday’s excellent victory. For Wycombe, two points from safety and a winnable trip to Barnsley on Wednesday, things are looking up for the Championship new boys.

Alex Neil will have to pick up his side however, as they host a difficult visit from Middlesbrough. With key players injured and home form continuing to hinder the side. Pressure is building on the Scotsman.

By Thomas Greenwood

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