Preston North End twice threw away a lead as Oldham Athletic fought back to claim a draw in an entertaining encounter at Deepdale on Tuesday night.
In front of a healthy crowd of 11,370 at North End’s designated “Family Fun Night”, the game started at a slow pace with both teams content to feel their way into the game and find each other’s weaknesses. Both sides then began to create chances with Paul Coutts blowing a golden opportunity for Preston and Chris Taylor doing the same for the visitors.
The Lilywhites then opened the scoring on 28 minutes through the lively Juvhel Tsoumou. A superb save from Oldham goalkeeper Alex Cisak prevented the hosts from taking the lead but from the resulting corner, Tsoumou rose highest inside the area to head powerfully past Cisak and put his side in front.
Once they had made the breakthrough, Preston grabbed complete control of the game and doubled their advantage on 32 minutes. Coutts had made a number of surging runs into the Oldham penalty area and when he did so again, his cross found Jamie Proctor at the back post and the striker made no mistake in turning the ball into the net from six yards out.
But then with half-time approaching, the Latics turned the game on its’ head with two goals in three minutes. With Preston becoming complacent in possession, Oldham stole the ball away and from just inside the penalty area, Shefki Kuqi turned sharply and fired past Iain Turner to half the deficit.
With just a minute to go before the interval, the dangerous James Wesolowski brought parity back to proceedings with a well-taken goal. Robbie Simpson’s free-kick was whipped in from the right wing and Wesolowski met it with a strong header that evaded Turner and nestled in the back of the net, bringing the game level at half-time.
Preston went back in front on 65 minutes through a bizarre goal from full-back Danny Devine. As a North End corner was cleared, Devine lofted a ball towards the Oldham goal, evidently hoping that one of his team-mates would get a touch on it. But as everyone watched, the ball looped over Cisak and into the net. Oldham claimed that their goalkeeper had been impeded by Proctor but referee Scott Mathieson allowed the goal to stand.
As the hosts desperately fought to close the game out and claim the victory they needed, Oldham managed to snatch a deserved draw through Wesolowski’s second goal of the evening. As the North End defenders backed off Wesolowski, the creative midfielder curled a shot from 25 yards past Turner’s outstretched arms to take a point.
Preston will know that after being 2-0 and 3-2 up at home, they should have won this game but they simply defended poorly and were punished by two quality players in Kuqi and Wesolowski. It is a case of two points dropped for Phil Brown’s men and they will hope for better when they face Bournemouth at Deepdale on Saturday.
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