Preston North End 1 Southampton 1

Agyemang adds to Redknapp's agitation
Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is a sequence that has frustrated Harry Redknapp as he attempts to craft an instant return to the Premiership, and it showed in his touchline manner. The Southampton manager looked agitated as he disappeared into the tunnel after the final whistle, apparently in pursuit of referee Peter Walton, although his deputy, Kevin Bond, insisted it was not to complain about a specific incident. "I think he was just unhappy with the way we played," Bond said. "We have not conceded many goals and after going in front he was disappointed that we let them back in it. In the end Preston could have won.''

It has been an annoying week for Redknapp, whose problems are less to do with his relationship with Sir Clive Woodward than the hole left in his squad by the departures of Peter Crouch, Kevin Phillips and Henri Camara. Honest toilers though they are, Brett Ormerod and Ricardo Fuller look like average Championship strikers, which they are.

Preston's luck has not been as manager Billy Davies would like so far. The loss of key players in the transfer window has been compounded by injuries. It does not help when your key striker falls foul of a malevolent insect, which is the explanation for the virus that led David Nugent to spend the weekend in hospital after suffering a bite while abroad.

This performance dispelled some of the feeling that reaching the play-offs last season was an overachievement. Southampton might have edged the first half but after going behind to a deflected shot by Darren Powell, via Callum Davidson, Preston came back with so much vigour that a win would not have flattered them.

It was a different story earlier. Without Nugent, bite is the quality Preston lack, especially at home. Until Agyemang hit the target after 65 minutes, Nugent's goal against Derby on 8 August was their only one at home in five games.

Little wonder, then, that there was a collective groan as Southampton took a fortuitous lead, keeper Carlo Nash hopelessly wrong-footed by Davidson's unwitting intervention. It spoiled what was an otherwise pleasing week for the left-back, called by Scotland for the World Cup qualifiers after a three-year absence.

But his disappointment will have been eased by Preston's determination and improved execution in the second half, rewarded by an equaliser that had been well signposted. Davidson delivered a low cross from the left and when Danny Dichio stepped over the ball there was enough hesitation in the visiting defence for Agyemang to pounce, shooting in off the underside of the bar from 15 yards.

It was relief indeed for Preston, who had seen a penalty appeal rejected in the first half and suspected that fate was against them again when their claims that Antti Niemi, the Southampton keeper, had stepped over his line to collect a Dichio header were also dismissed.

Once level, however, Preston sensed they might win as Southampton continued to be pinned in their own half. Twice they went close as energetic midfielder David Jones saw one shot charged down and another narrowly miss the target. Southampton sent on Marian Pahars and Kenwyne Jones but there was no stifling Preston's momentum and Redknapp's body language suggested the final whistle could not have come soon enough.

Comments