Aiden McGeady strikes on return to Preston to earn Sunderland draw

Simon Grayson likened Aiden McGeady’s goal celebrations to Emmanuel Adebayor after the midfielder celebrated in front of the Preston North End supporters when he scored Sunderland’s second goal in a breathless draw.

McGeady had already been the subject of taunts from some home fans after he had signed for the Sunderland following a successful loan campaign with Preston last season.

He cemented his position as public enemy No1 on Saturday, though, when his equaliser was followed up with a dash towards the home supporters and some not so subtle celebrations.

It was the third goal in five frenetic second-half minutes and came after strikes by Josh Harrop and Jordan Hugill had turned the game on its head following George Honeyman’s opener for the visitors.

Grayson recalled the incident when Adebayor slid to his knees in front of the fans of his former team Arsenal after he scored for Manchester City.

He said: “You’re allowed to run around on any part of the pitch and celebrate what you want. He took the pressure off me to be fair so I’m quite happy with that. I’ve just said there he looked like Adebayor when he was at City v Arsenal.

“Why shouldn’t you celebrate a goal because he was taunted a little bit? I think he was unfairly taunted because he was exceptional last year – he didn’t leave, he didn’t have a choice to come to this club so there was never a decision for him to make so it was a little bit unfair what went off.”

It was Grayson’s first return to Deepdale since he ended a four-year stint and moved to the north-east in June. He has endured a difficult start to life there and they came into the match on the back of a 5-2 drubbing by Ipswich and with one point from seven league games. But a point at a team who started the match fifth was welcomed.

“We’ve reacted – that is the biggest thing – whether we’ve got three or one point today it was about a reaction from Tuesday night,” he said

He did question some of the refereeing decisions and especially when the Preston goalkeeper, Chris Maxwell, appeared to take both ball and Duncan Watmore when outside the area with the referee, Chris Kavanagh, unmoved. The Sunderland keeper, Jason Steele, was the only player penalised for the incident when he was shown a yellow card for protesting.

It was a game played at a high tempo from the off, Honeyman making the breakthrough when he drove home after Lynden Gooch backheeled James Vaughan’s knockdown from a free-kick.

But Preston hit back, Harrop’s free-kick from the left went into the far corner before Hugill’s ferocious left-footed volley put the hosts into the lead.

“Sacked in the morning,” the home supporters sang to Grayson but they were stunned into silence by McGeady, the midfielder receiving the ball from Didier Ndong, cutting inside and firing home into the bottom left corner.

Alan Browne saw his volley come off the far post for Preston but the game ended all square much to the chagrin of his manager, Alex Neil.

“Frustrating, disappointing we didn’t win,” he said. “We did enough at the start of the second half. It was an entertaining game.

“I said to them at half-time I don’t think we have done the fundamentals well enough, we haven’t won enough tackles, we haven’t picked up enough second balls and haven’t won enough headers.

“When the second half started we started to do that, we were the better side. We scored two fantastic goals and could have created more opportunities with some of the balls we had on the edge of their area.

“The disappointing thing for us is we take the lead 2-1 and deservedly so and if we see it out for five to 10 minutes we’ll go on and win the game.”