Preston 2-2 Sunderland: Simon Grayson earns draw on Deepdale return
By Press Association
Last Updated: 30/09/17 6:59pm
There were three goals in four frenetic second-half minutes as Simon Grayson's Sunderland claimed a 2-2 draw against his former side Preston at Deepdale.
Sunderland were ahead at half-time thanks to George Honeyman but two quick goals from Josh Harrop and Jordan Hugill turned things around for the hosts. Aiden McGeady hit back instantly for Sunderland on his return to Deepdale but it is now nine league games without a win for the Black Cats.
Sunderland had the first real chance of the match after 25 minutes, as McGeady's corner was cleared as far as Honeyman on the edge of the area, but his volley was narrowly wide of the far post.
A spell of pressure from visitors told as they took the lead on 28 minutes. A free-kick was flicked on by James Vaughan as far as Lynden Gooch, whose clever backheel found Honeyman six yards out and he slotted past Chris Maxwell.
That was only the second goal that Preston have conceded at Deepdale this season and the Championship's tightest defence almost faltered again on 41 minutes as their former star McGeady whistled one just wide from 18 yards.
Preston wasted a great chance to pull level after 52 minutes as a ball in behind created a two-on-one situation for the hosts but Hugill's attempted pass to Tom Barkhuizen was wayward and the opportunity was lost.
But Alex Neil's side, who are now unbeaten in eight league games, were level three minutes later. Harrop whipped a free-kick in from the right, which deflected off a Sunderland head and found the bottom left-hand corner.
And they scored for the second time in as many minutes as Alan Browne's through ball was blocked but fell for Hugill, who thumped a volley in off the bar from 18 yards.
Sunderland, however, came back again with an instant reply and it was McGeady who cut in from the right and swept home left-footed from 20 yards before running to the opposite end to celebrate in front of the Preston fans who had booed him on his return to Deepdale.
The frantic start to the second half continued, with Preston going within inches of retaking the lead straight from the kick-off when Browne's curling effort struck the post.
Both sides looked like grabbing a winner, with Vaughan passing up the best chance for Sunderland three minutes from time as he headed McGeady's corner over from eight yards.
Alex Neil: "We scored two fantastic goals. The disappointing thing for us is that, having taken the lead, if we see it out for five or 10 minutes, we probably go on and win the game.
"You could probably argue that, on merit, we probably deserve more points, but 20 points from 11 games is a good start for us. I'd say we're content. I wouldn't say I'm happy with it."
Simon Grayson: "You are allowed to run around any part of the field and celebrate how you want. [McGeady] took the pressure off me to be fair, so I'm quite happy with that. I said to him he looked like Adebayor at City.
"Why shouldn't you celebrate? He was unfairly taunted, I thought, because he was exceptional last year. He didn't have a choice to come here, so I thought it was a bit unfair what went off."