PNE 2 Bradford City 2
North End and Bradford shared four goals in an entertaining and feisty Roses battle at Deepdale.
The visitors, backed by 3,000 vocal fans from across the Pennines, took the lead on five minutes, James Hanson converting Kyel Reid’s cross.
But Tom Clarke added to his collection of headed Deepdale goals, converting Scott Laird’s free kick to level for the Lilywhites on 32 minutes.
The teams again traded goals within four minutes of each other in the second half, both from corners, firstly Bailey Wright converting from Laird’s cross and then Rory McArdle heading home Stephen Darby’s inswinger in the 69th and 73rd minutes respectively.
Simon Grayson had chosen to go with the same side that won at Gillingham the previous weekend and the Lilywhites started brightly, Stuart Beavon shooting from 20 yards, which was blocked but only out to Laird, whose effort from a further ten yards out whistled just wide of the right hand upright.
The Bantams took the lead with their first attack, Kyel Reid, who would become a figure of vitriol from the North End fans, clipped the ball from the right hand edge of the box and byline deep to the back post where big frontman James Hanson headed home from close range.
Just before the quarter of an hour mark Stuart Beavon went close to levelling matter, his curling left foot effort from 25 yards an inch over the left hand corner of bar after a driving run from Chris Humphrey.
The Lilywhites were working hard to get back into the game and a driving run from centre half Bailey Wright from back created space and the ball was put out to Chris Humphrey, who lofted the ball deep to the back post, but it was taken off the head of Kevin Davies and out for first corner.
At the mid-way point from the half Reid had another shot from 25 yards that squirmed under Declan Rudd, but it came back off the post.
Just before the half way mark the pressure was building and a Davies header at the back post from yet another Humphrey cross went straight down the throat of Jon McLaughlan in the Bradford goal.
However, the pressure continued and the equaliser arrived on 32 minutes. Scott Laird swung over a free kick from 45 yards out in right hand channel after Davies has been brought down; the ball was floated to back post and, a la Blackpool, Tom Clarke headed back across the keeper into the bottom right hand corner to the delight of the home fans.
Five minutes before the interval Bailey Wright was in the right place at the right time to head the ball off the line from Hanson after yet another Reid cross; he and follow right winger Humphrey, the main prongs of attack for their sides in the opening 45 minutes.
The second half started in blistering fashion and Humphrey’s cross was hit by Davies 12 yards out only for Bates to get a deflection to take it wide on 50 minutes.
McLaughlan then made the an amazing save to deny Humphrey after a ball cross from Beavon had left the keeper on the floor and the Jamaican blasted a shot back towards goal and somehow the keeper tipped it round the post for a corner.
At the mid-way point in the half a brace of corners in quick succession were both won by Chris Humphrey allowing Scott Laird to get the ball into the box and from the second, his deep ball found Bailey Wright unmarked and the Aussie Centre half headed powerfully back across goal into the right hand corner on 69 minutes.
However, the lead lasted only four minutes as from Bradford’s first corner of the half, Rory McArdle rose highest to power a header into the top right hand corner from Darby’s left wing inswinger.
Hanson thought he had given the Bantams the lead again with eight minutes left but was given offside after a free kick from Jones in a left hand channel.
Declan Rudd plucked a Gary Jones dipping effort from 25 yards out of the top corner with just 90 seconds left as both sides traded blows looking for the winner.
In the third of four minutes of stoppage time Kevin Davies got his head onto substitute Lee Holmes’ self-won corner, but couldn’t keep it down and the teams shared the honours in the fiercely contested Roses battle.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Keane, Laird, Huntington, Clarke, Wright, Humphrey (Buchanan, 90), K Davies, Beavon (Hume, 84), Welsh, Brownhill (Holmes, 76). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Byrom, Garner, Mousinho.
Bradford City line-up: McLaughlan, Darby, Meredith, Reid, Hanson, Thompson, Jones, De Vita (Kennedy, 77), Bates, McArdle, Doyle. Subs not used: Ripley, Yeates, Taylor, McHugh, Connell, Folan.
Referee: Mr D Coote
Attendance: 11,485 (2,910 away fans)