Johnson earns Pilgrims point
Plymouth picked up a point as Damien Johnson's second-half penalty secured a 1-1 draw at home to Preston.
Last Updated: 06/03/10 5:33pm
Plymouth Argyle picked up a point in their battle to climb to safety as Damien Johnson's second-half penalty secured a 1-1 draw at home to Preston North End.
The away side had taken an 18th minute lead at Home Park through Sean St Ledger's first goal for Preston since returning from his loan spell at Middlesbrough.
However, the Pilgrims snatched a point in the 71st minute when recent signing Johnson scored from the penalty spot after Matthew James handled Craig Noone's corner.
Ross Wallace missed a golden opportunity for Preston in the opening minute.
Burly striker Jon Parkin fed the ball to the Scotland winger, who blazed over from close range when he should have worked a relieved David Stockdale in the Plymouth goal.
Parkin was proving to be a handful for the Argyle defence in the opening exchanges and he fizzed a dangerous ball across the six-yard box moments later.
Plymouth were under severe pressure and Stockdale did superbly to thwart James, whose shot capped a sweeping Preston move in the 12th minute.
North End's front two then linked up effectively as Neil Mellor whipped over a cross which top scorer Parkin headed narrowly wide.
After the 18th minute the pressure finally told when Wallace's inswinging corner was headed home by St Ledger for his first Preston goal of the season.
North End's captain for the day almost doubled the advantage midway through the half when Wallace fizzed in a free-kick from 35 yards which Stockdale could only parry, but the Republic of Ireland centre-back put the rebound wide.
The Home Park pitch was starting to cut up and that appeared to be to Argyle's advantage as they worked their way back into the game and almost equalised three minutes before half-time.
Preston's on-loan Peterborough full-back Tom Williams - making his 250th professional start - fouled Carl Fletcher on the left wing. From the resulting Chris Clark free-kick, Joe Mason's goalbound header was stunningly tipped round the post by Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan.
Luke Summerfield was replaced by Noone at the interval for Plymouth and the hosts enjoyed the greater share of possession at the start of the second period.
After 63 minutes Parkin dragged a shot wide from 12 yards and Preston were left to rue that such chances had gone begging with 20 minutes remaining.
A corner from Noone was handled by James and referee Andy Woolmer had no hesitation in awarding a penalty which was calmly put away by Johnson.
And Plymouth almost snatched three points in the final minute when Noone drilled against the bar from 25 yards and Lonergan produced a superb save from Rory Fallon's follow-up.