Blackburn 2-2 Preston: Late equaliser for North End
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 18/03/17 5:31pm
Aiden McGeady grabbed a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser as Preston salvaged a 2-2 draw at Blackburn that keeps their Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes alive.
All seemed to be going well for the visitors when Tom Barkhuizen expertly fired them into a 13th-minute lead, but Rovers battled back admirably through Elliott Bennett's 30-yard piledriver in the 43rd minute and Craig Conway's composed effort 13 minutes later.
However, Simon Grayson's men, who started the day six points away from the play-offs, grabbed a leveller they scarcely deserved on the balance of play through McGeady's cool finish from 12 yards.
It was harsh on Rovers, who stretched their unbeaten run under head coach Tony Mowbray to seven games. They do, however, remain in the drop zone.
Preston's winless run away from home now stands at seven games but they are within two wins of climbing into the top six, as things stand.
Grayson named an unchanged side after the comprehensive defeat of Reading, while Blackburn handed a first start to Lucas Joao with Charlie Mulgrew returning after injury.
The Lilywhites had the first chance and hit the front in the 13th minute thanks to a superb one-two between Barkhuizen and Jordan Hugill, the latter cushioning the perfect pass for the former to control and stab home his fifth Preston goal from six yards.
McGeady lashed a thunderous volley over moments later as Grayson's men sought to hammer home their advantage.
At the other end, the in-form Joao was central to all of Blackburn's best moments. First, he engineered space at the edge of the area but blazed over and then saw his header crash off a post.
Rovers got the goal their endeavour deserved two minutes before half-time when Bennett received the ball 30 yards out and let fly with a sensational strike that arrowed into the bottom left corner.
Preston regrouped at the break and had two early chances but Barkhuizen could not control a half-volley from Daryl Horgan's cross.
Then, McGeady's delightful 50th-minute ball evaded everybody in the six-yard box, when any touch would do.
Rovers made them pay in clinical fashion in the 56th minute as Marvin Emnes controlled and produced the perfect pass for Conway, who kept his composure to slide home from 12 yards for his sixth goal this term.
Mowbray's team were in full flow by this point and youngster Ryan Nyambe almost got a third midway through the half after twisting and turning on the right, but his fierce drive whistled wide.
Substitute Paul Gallagher saw a late effort saved and just when it looked like the hosts would prevail, Tom Clarke found McGeady 12 yards out in the third minute of stoppage time.
He showed nerves of steel to slot in his fifth for Preston, thus snatching an unlikely point.
Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray:
"In the end, the team is pretty devastated in there but we have to take it on the chin, look at the positives but realise on the way we have to manage games better, see games out. We managed to do it a couple of times against Wigan and Derby. I thought today was another example of that - working really hard to get in front, see it out or even score a third, but it wasn't to be so yes, we're left frustrated.
"While we're frustrated, while we're disappointed, I think it was an amazing effort from everybody to get ourselves in a winning position - the supporters as well as the players, and yet, I feel as if we let the fans down today because they were so behind the team.
"But I've told the players not to be too hard on themselves because it was a fantastic effort to get back in front against a very dogged, determined, hardworking football team at the top end of the table."
Preston boss Simon Grayson:
"Blackburn will feel unfortunate they conceded in the last minute, we'll feel like it's a victory, but that's football. You can never question the character and spirit within the dressing room because they keep going to the very end and who knows where that point comes at the end of the season. It could be very valuable and we're delighted to have not lost the game.
"I think the only opportunity we missed was when we got the first goal, we couldn't capitalise to get the second to win the game. We had a good opportunity when we broke quickly but we couldn't get the final pass off. But ultimately we have to keep doing what we're doing."