Simon Grayson reacts to Sunderland's entertaining 2-2 draw at Preston North End

Aiden McGeady celebrates his goal.
Aiden McGeady celebrates his goal.
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Simon Grayson was pleased with the reaction of his Sunderland players after drawing 2-2 with Preston North End at Deepdale.

Sunderland took a deserved lead through George Honeyman's 28th minute strike from close-range before a frenzied second half period that saw three goals in the space of four second half minutes.

Josh Harrop levelled matters with a deflected free-kick after the break and former Sunderland target Jordan Hugill put the hosts in front with a stunning volley two minutes later.

But ex-Preston winger Aiden McGeady equalised against his former club with a 20-yard strike moments later before running to celebrate in front of the home support who had goaded him all half.

Grayson was pleased with the reaction of the players, with the point coming on the back of the 5-2 thrashing at Ipswich Town on Tuesday.

The Sunderland boss said: "When you lose a game like the scoreline on Tuesday you want a reaction.

"We looked a decent team, that was the big thing about us. We showed a lot of character and withstood pressure.

"We were worthy leaders at half-time, limiting them to few opportunities. We matched their energy and desire, they have a lot of pace about them.

"Second half when we had to dig deep, we did do."

Grayson praised his players for their reaction to shipping two goals in the space of two minutes.

With confidence short on Wearside, Sunderland could have folded but they hit back quickly through McGeady to secure a point.

Duncan Watmore made his return from a nine-month lay-off as a second half sub and he should have been awarded a penalty, while Preston keeper Chris Maxwell was fortunate not to be at least booked after handballing outside his area.

Grayson added: "When you concede a goal like we did and then Hugill scores a goal like that - he won't score another in his career like that and I can guarantee that as I have seen him for three years!

"We had to withstand that pressure. We did then came back into the game. Other decisions could have gone our way.

"Watmore's is a penalty when he went through, he was clipped on the corner of the box. That would have been the difference to drawing the game and winning it.

"I was pleased with the response. Their keeper should have got a card of some description, he has clearly taken Duncan out and clearly hand-balled it.

"I'm not quite sure why that decision went the way it did."