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Match Report: Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Preston North End

9 September 2014

Preston North End succumbed to a narrow 1-0 nil defeat at the hands of Rovers despite being good value for a draw.

The Lilywhites were undone by a quick Blackburn corner in the 25th minute, central defender Darragh Lenihan firing home low into the bottom corner past Thorsten Stuckmann.

But the result failed to tell the full story of the game, North End hitting the post and having a late Ben Davies header cleared off the line as they bowed out in the first round of the Lancashire FA Senior Cup.

The PNE lineup was moulded together featuring a mix of senior and Academy players against a Blackburn development squad side; the added two or three years progression over the younger North End starters evident on occasions.

Preston started quickly, Luke Pritchard dancing past the hosts’ central defensive pairing before seeing his shot saved down low to this right by David Raya.

Blackburn then began to get a foothold in the contest, John O’Sullivan firing over Stuckmann’s crossbar before Modou Cham dragged his shot wide.

In an even start, PNE were next to threaten, Jordan Hugill – who was forced off with an upper body injury in the 31st minute, linked up well with Kyel Reid – who got another 90 minutes under his belt, before the former Bradford city man fizzed his driven shot over.

The Lilywhites kept up the pressure, Paul Huntington’s header clipping the post from a David Fox corner.

But seven minutes later the home side were in front thanks to Lenihan, who was given time to pick his spot before finding it through a crowded penalty area.

The injury to Hugill seemed to disrupt the flow of the match as North End changed from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1, referee Darren Bond booking O’Sullivan for pulling back the frontman’s replacement James Boyd the only incident of note prior to the half-time whistle sounding.

PNE evened the score in terms of bookings early in the second half when Fox followed O’Sullivan into the referee’s notebook for a tug on the aforementioned, and Preston were denied a goalscoring opportunity just seconds later when a clear handball by Lenihan – who was last man, went unnoticed with Reid about to pounce on the opportunity.

The hosts then cracked the post themselves after a scramble in the North End box from a corner was only cleared as far as Hygua Tanner who saw his stinging effort crack back of Stuckmann’s right hand post with the ‘keeper stranded.

A Connor Mahoney pot shot from long range failed to trouble the German stopper in the 67th minute, before Eddie Dsane used his body well against a much more physically developed Lenihan who he outworked and outmuscled before shooting just over.

PNE began to press in search of the equaliser, Reid, who by now was conducting the match, saw his dipping and swerving shot fly wide right before forcing Raya into a save just minutes later.

A flurry of substitutions occurred prior to Reid’s free kick being saved well by Raya, and in the first minute of stoppage time, PNE came closer than they had done all afternoon through Davies.

A perfectly floated corner kick from the right was met by Davies’ head, but his top corner bound effort was headed to safety, PNE’s last chance as they exited the competition.

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