HUGILL LEVELLER IS ADDED VALUE
Price set to rise after late equaliser
PRESTON boss Simon Grayson clearly felt it would have been rough on his battling side had Jordan Hugill not pounced for an 89th-minute equaliser against Ipswich.
In-form North End dominated the second period but didn’t break through until Hugill – a rumoured target for the Tractor Boys, who may well have to cough up more for him now – pounced to lash home his ninth goal of the campaign.
Grayson said: “I hope Jordan keeps scoring goals for us. He did well to follow up his couple at Villa with another well-taken one here.
“He deserves credit because he definitely didn’t let any of the speculation get to him.
“It was always going to be tough against Ipswich. They’re resilient and well-organised, and we struggled to break them down.
“It wasn’t our best performance, but we kept plugging away and asking questions, and in the end we gained our reward.
“Our shots were being blocked and defenders were getting in our way. I thought it wasn’t going to be our day.
“We got our just desserts though, and it’s credit to the lads for sticking at it.”
Both sides created a number of chances in the first period at a damp and dreary Deepdale but just the one was converted, by Ipswich in the 16th minute.
It was a splendid individual strike from former Manchester United youngster Tom Lawrence, who turned North End defender Marnick Vermijl inside and out before curling a brilliant strike across keeper Chris Maxwell and into the far corner of the net.
It was Lawrence’s eighth goal of the season, and much more significantly, his sixth in his last six games.
Preston’s best opportunities fell to Hugill and Aiden McGeady, who both fired efforts over the top.
The hosts bossed the second period. McGeady was thwarted by a fine reaction stop from Bartosz Bialkowski, while substitute Jermaine Beckford should have done better when he fired straight at the keeper from close range.
Preston, who have now lost just once in their last nine games, grabbed their leveller just before the game entered stoppage-time.
Substitute Daryl Horgan floated in a cross towards Hugill, who chested the ball down effortlessly before drilling clinically past the stranded Bialkowski.
Ipswich boss McCarthy now might be forced to up the value of what would be a third bid for Hugill this week.
“It was sod’s law that the ball fell to him at the end,” said McCarthy.
“When he’d scored I nudged Simon Grayson and he said to me, ‘That’s four million quid we want now’.
“We’ll just have to see what develops with that one now.”
It was clearly a huge blow to have conceded so late, but McCarthy hailed Lawrence’s first-half strike – another topdrawer effort. “It was a terrific goal from Tom. He took it really well again,” he said.
“It’s going to be an interesting end-of-season awards night. Tom’s hit about five goal-of-theseason contenders already. He’s monopolised that so far because there’s certainly not been many other great goals.
“He’s a quality player with so much going for him, though he did run of steam a little bit in the second half.”
LATE SHOW: Jordan Hugill wheels away after scoring Preston’s equaliser