Blackburn Rovers 1 PNE 2
Former North End loanee Elliott Ward had given the home side an early lead, but Rovers skipper Shane Duffy was sent off for deliberate handball on the line and Joe Garner converted the resulting penalty and then Jordan Hugill volleyed home just before half-time.
The home side went ahead 13 minutes in when former centre half Ward fired home from 15 yards out after an Elliott Bennett corner from the left was headed against the bar by Hope Akpan and it came back out to the defender and he drove into the bottom left hand corner.
But the game changed on 24 minutes. North End got into the box and saw an initial shot from Joe Garner blocked, but with home keeper Jason Steele nowhere to be seen Jordan Hugill got the ball and fired towards the bottom right hand corner only for the shot saved on the line by a diving home skipper Shane Duffy, however, he of course was not the goalkeeper and the linesman witnessed the blatant handball and referee Eddie Ilderton immediately produced the red card and pointed to the spot.
The resulting penalty was taken by former Rover Joe Garner in front of the Blackburn End and he fired hard and low into the bottom left hand corner, the goalkeeper going the right way, but failing to stop it and the game was level.
It was now a completely different match and the Lilywhites were dominating possession and two minutes before the break they went ahead. A cross from Adam Reach came in from the left and was recycled back out to Paul Gallagher and the other ex-Rover put a brilliant reverse ball to the back post from just to the left of the ‘D’ and Jordan Hugill made it back to back derby goals, volleying into the top left corner of the goal and wheeling away in celebration.
With nine minutes of the second half gone it really should have been three as Adam Reach broke down the left hand side and squared the ball to the penalty spot to an on-rushing Ben Pearson who met the cross sweetly, but dragged it an inch wide of the left hand post.
Calum Woods was somehow denied a first PNE goal on 64 minutes as Gallagher fed Reach with a first time volleyed pass, his cross found Hugill, who headed down for the wing back but Ward made an outstanding block to deny him a goal.
Greg Cunningham’s 30 yards pile-driver was grabbed at the second attempt by Steele as the Lilywhites worked the ball left and right to create space in an attempt to try and get the game’s fourth goal.
Substitute Daniel Johnson was denied by another outstanding Ward block with nine minutes to go after Calum Woods had driven down the right and collected Johnson’s initial ball before pulling back to 12 yards out for the onrushing midfield man, who was denied by a telescopic leg from the centre half.
Jermaine Beckford was on in the 86th minute and almost made it three himself as he drilled a shot across the goal from Paul Gallagher’s superb long ball, but his blistering drive was inches wide with Steele beaten.
It remained 2-1 and every one of the 7,000 fans remained until Simon Grayson was the only man left on the pitch taking the acclaim of them all.
Blackburn Rovers line-up: Steele, Spurr, Watt (Jackson, 7 (Kilgallon, 27)), Marshall, Graham, Gomez, Ward, Akpan (Brown, 71), Duffy (c), Lenihan, Bennett. Subs not used: Raya, Henley, Grimes, Conway.
PNE line-up: Lindegaard, Clarke (c), Wright, Cunningham, Woods, Pearson (Johnson, 63), Gallagher, Browne, Reach (Huntington, 80), Garner (Beckford, 86), Hugill. Subs not used: Kirkland, Vermijl, Doyle, Robinson.
Attendance: 21,029 (7,023 away fans)
Referee: Mr E Ilderton