PRESTON NORTH END 1 (Morgan 4)
BARNSLEY 2 (Hammill 43, O'Connor 89)
Tuesday November 9, 2010, KO 7.45pm
BARNSLEY turned in their best away day performance of the season but it took a moment of comical defending to turn what had been a totally dominant display into three well-deserved points.
There were four changes for the Reds in the wake of Saturday's defeat by Leicester City. In came Goran Lovre, Kieran Trippier, Andy Gray and Nathan Doyle while Paul Hayes, Chris Wood, Luke Potter and Jacob Butterfield missed out. New signing Garry O'Connor had to do with a place on the bench while there was a surprise inclusion for youngster Reuben Noble-Lazarus amongst the subs.
Barnsley got off to the worst possible start inside four minutes as Keith Treacy's deep free kick found Craig Morgan at the back post and his looping header evaded everybody and dropped in under the bar.
It should have been two on nine minutes as Paul Parry sent Jon Parkin away and in the clear but the striker was denied by Luke Steele's outstanding last-gasp save.
The Reds finally got a foothold in the game on eleven minutes as neat passing sent Trippier away down the right but the full back could not find the corner with his effort from 16 yards.
It was almost all square on 16 minutes as Stephen Foster came steaming in to meet Adam Hammill's corner but Andy Lonergan somehow clawed his header to safety. The Reds just could not turn the loose ball goalward after North End's keeper had parried Foster's header away.
Hammill lashed one over on 18 minutes from the edge of the box before more slack defending from another Barnsley corner saw Lovre's header brilliantly scrambled away by Lonergan moments later.
Preston were at sixes and sevens with the Reds playing some of their best stuff in weeks. Great play by Hammill and Bobby Hassell opened the home side wide up on 22 minutes but again Lovre saw a goalbound effort well blocked away.
Barnsley were looking lethal from set pieces. Hammill's delivery was brilliant again on 27 minutes and Foster once more reached the ball first but Lonergan pulled out a fine, fine stop to deny the defender a goal.
North End were being harried all over the park as the Reds looked to turn the screw and get the goal their fine opening half deserved. The home side were still a threat and Billy Jones fired a cross in front of Steele and right along the six yard line on 30 minutes but there was no one there to get a telling touch.
Barnsley went close again on 35 minutes as Hassell found Hugo Colace in acres of space down the left flank but the midfielder could not find the top corner with his curling shot. Hammill then fired one a foot or so over the bar moments later after breaking through midfield.
At the other end Darryl Russell saw a deflected shot fizz wide on 36 minutes while Treacy saw his dipping curling corner fly just past the far post.
Hammill again had the North End defence chasing shadows on 40 minutes as he whipped in a cross from the left but Gray could not get his header on target.
It was going to take something special to beat Lonergan. It came on 44 minutes as North End allowed Hammill to race in from the flank and the winger accepted the invitation by slamming an unstoppable shot into the far top corner.
Hammill then forced Lonergan into a save in stoppage time after breaking well into the area.
Hammill's outstanding first half display prompted North End boss Darren Ferguson to haul off full back Billy Jones and send on David Gray to face up the Reds' mercurial winger.
Barnsley were well on top again in the opening exchanges of the second half although the Reds were almost caught out on 54 minutes from Treacy's quick free kick but Steele was in the right place to grab his 40-yard plus effort.
Great play by Lovre opened North End wide open again a minute later as Andy Gray found a yard of space in the area but was denied by another great Lonergan save. Hammill then found a yard again on 56 minutes but could not guide his effort on target from 25 yards.
Hammill was giving David Gray a torrid time. The full back picked up a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on the winger on 65 minutes. It almost got even worse from Hammill's free kick as Jason Shackell rose highest but planted a free header over the bar.
A thunderous challenge by Parkin on both Foster and Shackell gave Paul Parry a great chance from Treacy's cross on 67 minutes but Hassell was in the right place to make a telling block.
Hammill then had Preston chasing shadows on 68 minutes as he ran at the heart of the North End defence. His shot was well blocked and there were half hearted appeals for a penalty as Trippier went over as he looked to break onto the rebound but referee Oliver Langford waved them away.
Preston were there for the taking but every so often the home side offered something to trouble the Reds. David Gray's cross on 71 minutes found Russell at the back post and his header had Steele worried as it looped over the bar.
Hammill almost won it on 82 minutes as he turned well on the edge of the box but was denied again by the outstanding Lonergan. At the other end Parry saw one deflect off Foster and clip the sidenetting.
Jim O'Brien was a foot or so away from a winner on 88 minutes as he drive wide of the post before North End's luck finally ran out in comical fashion in stoppage time. Lonergan's goal kick only just cleared the penalty area and when St Ledger's back pass sold his keeper short and O'Connor nipped in to grab his second goal of the season with a fine finish.
PRESTON NORTH END: Lonergan, Morgan, Davidson, St Ledger, James (Barton 57), Coutts, Treacy (Mayor 71), Parry, Jones (Gray 45), Russell, Parkin.
Subs: Brown, Nicholson, Arestidou, McLaughlin.
BARNSLEY: Steele, Hassell, Shackell, Doyle, Foster, O'Brien, Lovre (Butterfield 88), Hammill, Trippier, Colace (Arismendi 73), Gray (O'Connor 73).
Subs: Preece, Neumann, Noble-Lazarus, Wood.
Oliver Langford (West Midlands)
Stephen Martin (Staffordshire) and Andrew Scregg (Liverpool)
Daniel Meeson (Staffordshire)
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