Preston 1-1 Wolves: Helder Costa seals a point for Championship leaders
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 17/02/18 8:48pm
Ten-man Preston extended their unbeaten run to six Championship games as they held on to seal a 1-1 draw against runaway leaders Wolves.
Helder Costa grabbed a second-half equaliser for Wolves almost immediately after John Welsh was dismissed for a second yellow card, Alan Browne having put the hosts ahead just after the break.
A draw ended Wolves' run of three successive victories as their lead at the top was trimmed to 11 points while the in-form Lilywhites remain just outside the play-off spots.
The first chance of the game went to the Championship leaders after 25 minutes when Ivan Cavaleiro was slipped through by Ryan Bennett but blasted high over the bar with his left foot from eight yards.
Preston broke on the counter a couple of minutes later and Callum Robinson jinked inside from the left touchline before curling a right-footed strike just over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.
Nuno Espirito Santo's side were dominating possession, with most of the play inside the Preston half. And Wolves almost went ahead on the half-hour mark through Ruben Neves, whose first-time volley from 20 yards flashed just over the bar.
Preston knew that a win could move them inside the play-off places and they started the second half brightly. Browne drove into the area after 48 minutes and fired a right-footed effort which was superbly tipped onto the post by John Ruddy.
And Darnell Fisher threatened on 51 minutes as he lashed towards goal at the far post and his effort was deflected over the bar.
But Preston had the lead a minute later from the resulting corner. Robinson delivered the ball from the left-hand side to the far post where Browne rose highest to nod in from three yards.
After that, it all began to unravel for Alex Neil's side. First they were reduced to 10 men on 59 minutes as Welsh received a second yellow card for a cynical pull-back on Cavaleiro.
It took just two minutes for Wolves to make their numerical advantage count as Cavaleiro launched a surging run through the middle before slipping in Costa who slotted past Declan Rudd from eight yards.
Preston though coped pretty well defensively after conceding the equaliser, with Neves' ambitious strike from 35 yards that dipped just over the crossbar the closest Wolves came to snatching a winner.
Rudd twice denied Wolves that winner with five minutes remaining, getting out quickly to smother Benik Afobe's effort before palming away Neves' 25-yard strike.
Alex Neil: "I think we worked hard but that's something we do every game, I fully expect that. First half we limited Wolves to not many chances.
"But I thought we had one ingredient missing in the first half which was a bit of belief that we could beat them.
"I didn't think we had that belief and we spoke about it prior to the game. That was the basis of my half-time team talk. We started the second half on the front foot, we got our goal.
"What would have been really good would have been to keep 11 men on the pitch and see how the game transpired. At that stage I was really confident that we would have gone on to win the game.
"I think at that stage we were the team on top and normally we finish games really well, we are one of the strongest teams in the division at the end of games."
Nuno Espirito Santo: "Everybody knew about Preston, one defeat in 16 games says a lot about a team.
"We have to give credit to them because after the sending-off they drop and they defend well.
"Everybody thought that we were closer to winning the game but playing against one man less requires a different approach. I think we created enough chances to win it but we have to have a different approach and it's something we have to look at.
"In the same way, we have to look at set-pieces because we were in control of the game and we concede from a set-piece.
"I am not happy with the result because we prepare every game to win. That's what we do and we need to look at what happened today and get better."