Preston 2-2 Stoke: Potters held to second successive draw
Peter Crouch scores 200th goal in English football
By Dan Long
Last Updated: 18/08/18 8:38pm
Substitute Peter Crouch scored his 200th goal in English football to rescue a 2-2 draw for Stoke against Preston at Deepdale.
Former Stoke midfielder Paul Gallagher gave Preston the lead from the spot, having escaped punishment for a clash with Joe Allen moments earlier, after young full-back Tom Edwards handled Darnell Fisher's cross (40).
The Potters were level inside a minute when Erik Pieters lashed home a fierce volley (42), but the hosts regained their deserved lead deep into first-half injury time when Graham Burke swept home on his first start for the club (45+5).
Alex Neil handed Graham Burke his first Preston start following his summer move from Shamrock Rovers, in the first of two changes for the hosts following their 1-0 defeat to Swansea last weekend.
The visitors were forced into a change in the heart of defence as Ashley Williams replaced the injured Bruno Martins Indi, while Gary Rowett opted to bring in young right-back Tom Edwards and Saido Berahino at the expense of Moritz Bauer and Bojan.
Crouch headed home Allen's whipped free-kick after 61 minutes to claim a point for Gary Rowett's men as they continue to struggle to acclimatise to life in the second tier.
Stoke's miserable start to the season was almost turned on its head after seven minutes; Saido Berahino's goal-drought came agonisingly close to being broken when Declan Rudd's reaction save kept out his bullet header after seven minutes.
Gallagher was incredibly fortunate to remain on the pitch after an apparent elbow on Allen after half an hour, but he dealt a blow to his former employers, smashing a penalty high into Jack Butland's net after Edwards' fumble.
Pieters arrowed a sumptuous volley beyond Rudd - his first goal since 2013/14 - but the visitors offered little in attack and were pinned back five minutes into added time when summer signing Burke beat Butland from close range.
Preston: Rudd (7), Fisher (7), Clarke (6), Davies (6), Hughes (6), Gallagher (8), Browne (7), Pearson (8), Burke (7), Robinson (7), Nmecha (6)
Subs: Moult (5), Barkhuizen (5), Ledson (n/a)
Stoke: Butland (6), Edwards (5), Williams (6), Shawcross (6), Pieters (7), Ince (6), Allen (7), Fletcher (6), McClean (5), Berahino (5), Afobe (5)
Subs: Diouf (5), Crouch (7), Etebo (n/a)
Man of the match: Ben Pearson
Second-half changes invigorated Rowett's side and Tom Ince's dipping volley proved a timely reminder to the Lilywhites of the danger the relegated Premier League outfit still pose.
They displayed their determination just after an hour when Crouch leapt from a crowd to divert Allen's free-kick over the line with an improvised header.
Preston rallied in the final minutes and produced further chances when Andrew Hughes headed over and Gallagher fizzed a daisy-cutter wide, but they failed to find the killer blow as Stoke held on for just their second Championship point of the season.
Alex Neil: "I'm disappointed to be honest. We took the lead twice in the game and I felt, having taken the lead, you want to try to go on and win the match. Throughout the game, I'd imagine we probably had more possession of the ball, more opportunities at goal. I haven't even seen the stats but I think that's the way they would pan out and I think if anyone could've won the game, it should've been us.
"I don't think he [Crouch] changed the game, what he did was: corner comes in, he jumps up, the ball comes off his back and goes in the net. Other than that I thought we dealt with him pretty well. I don't think he changed the game in the slightest, he influenced the game by scoring the goal."
Gary Rowett: "At the moment, when we are trying to play with a bit more quality, you can see the lack of confidence in the players to do that. That's two out of the three games now in which Crouchy has come on at 37-years-old and he's completely changed the game.
"While the second half is not really how we want to play, at the moment we've just go to try and be effective to get results, to get that confidence back. When we keep conceding goals with defending you'd see in an under-14s game, it really is very, very poor and we've just given ourselves a mountain to climb."
Man of the match - Ben Pearson
The Preston midfielder's value to Alex Neil can't be understated and he proved this evening how much of an asset he is at Deepdale.
The 23-year-old's tough-tackling approach rarely goes unnoticed and rarely shies away from a chance to take a booking for the good of the team; he received a yellow for a foul on Tom Ince when the winger spotted acres of space ahead of him. He's a huge presence in the midfield and crucial to any success the Lilywhites may plot this term.
Both sides are next in action on Wednesday night. Stoke entertain Wigan at the bet365 Stadium, while Preston travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich. The two fixtures can be viewed on the Sky Sports Football red button.