PNE 1 Blackburn Rovers 2
Blackburn Rovers scored from their only two efforts on goal to take the points, despite Joe Garner’s first gal of the season.
Hope Akpan poked the ball home from what was Rovers’ only first half attempt on goal after an initial shot by Craig Conway had come back off the post.
Jordan Rhodes doubled the lead from the penalty spot six minutes into the second half when Paul Huntington was adjudged to have brought down Chris Taylor.
Garner scored with 25 minutes left, as North End dominated and also saw Bailey Wright sent off late on two late bookings.
Manager Simon Grayson brought back Greg Cunningham after injury, Marnick Vermijl dropping to the bench in a 4-4-2 formation.
The game started brightly with some excellent one touch passing football from the Lilywhites leading to Gallagher shooting left-footed from 22 yards; keeper Jason Steel spilt it, but claimed at second attempt at the feet of Eoin Doyle.
Next up a great ball from Johnson out to Adam Reach, saw the winger check inside in box – he tried to square to Doyle, blocked saw his effort blocked by Rovers skipper Grant Hanley to conceded the first corner.
Just after the mid-point of the half a quick counter-attack from North End saw them break in numbers, but the ball wouldn’t come down for Johnson, Reach or Doyle in the box.
The visitors took the lead just after the half hour mark. An initial shot from distance by Craig Conway came back off the post and found Shane Duffy whose shot was cleared off the like by Paul Gallagher before being poked home by Hope Akpan.
North End continued to push and a shot by skipper Paul Gallagher from 30 yards seemed to be heading goalwards, but was blocked by Duffy and then right on half-time Daniel Johnson whipped a shot from 22 yards inches wide of the left hand post after a clever free kick, following a foul on Joe Garner, who had been upended by Duffy.
With six minutes gone in the second half Paul Huntington was adjudged to have brought down Chris Taylor in the box and Jordan Rhodes slid the ball into the bottom left hand corner just out of reach of Jordan Pickford, who had dived the right way.
But with 24 minutes left the game was back alive and who else but Joe Garner to bring it to life. Substitute Stevie May saw a shot ricochet up in the air and as it came down the Scotsman contolled it brilliantly and Garner took it off his toes and blasted home from 18 yards out into the bottom left hand corner.
Bailey Wright picked up two yellow cards for fouls on substitute Koita as five minutes of added time was signalled with the Lilywhites throwing everything at the visitors, who themselves looked like ten men as North End dominated possession, but couldn’t get the equaliser they deserved.
: Pickford, Woods (Clarke, 46), Cunningham, Browne, Huntington, Wright, Johnson (Keane, 64), Gallagher (c), Garner, Doyle (May, 64), Reach. Subs not used: Kirkland, Vermijl, Welsh, Hugill.PNE line-up
: Steele, Henley, Hanley (c), Marshall, Rhodes (Koita, 82), Olsson, Lawrence (Taylor, 33), Akpan, Duffy, Evans, Conway (Guthrie, 74). Subs not used: Raya, Spurr, Kilgallon, Delfouneso.Blackburn Rovers line-up
: 19,852 (5,486 away fans)Attendance
: Mr M DeanReferee