Goals from Callum Robinson and Alan Browne gave North End a point, as Bolton Wanderers fought back to level the Lancashire derby at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites raced into a two-goal lead, Robinson sliding home after Brandon Barker’s through ball and then Browne volleyed home from the edge of the box with a stunning strike, only for Sammy Ameobi’s deflected shot and Pawel Olkowski to level matters before half-time, but there was a controversial end with Ben Pearson red carded after the final whistle.
Only Ben Davies and Barker retained their places in the starting XI from the win at Leeds in the Carabao Cup in the week, with manager Alex Neil choosing to freshen the group after playing with ten men for almost 70 minutes.
The opener came on 11 minutes as Barker picked up a loose pass in the middle of his own half, ran at the heart of the Wanderers defence holding off Olkowski, to put a lovely through ball for Robinson, who went one-on-one with Ben Alnwick, set the keeper on the floor, and slid the ball from 18 yards into the bottom right hand corner.
And five more minutes later it was two. After about 20 passes the ball was played out to Robinson down the left, who clipped the ball across, cleared by Mark Beevers to Paul Gallagher 30 yards out, he chested it down to Alan Browne, who brought it down on his chest with his back to goal, spun and volleyed into the top right-hand corner of the goal.
Just after the half hour mark there was a great chance again, as North End pressed the Bolton backline, Gallagher played the ball into Browne, who drove 20 yards forward and found Graham Burke, who fired a right-footed shot past Alnwick, but just wide of the right-hand post.
And eight minutes before the break a quickly taken free kick by Robinson sent Barker down the left and into the box, but his shot was blocked by Wheater, with Burke waiting for any rebound.
However, two goals in as many minutes turned the game on its head. Seven minutes before the break Ameobi collected the ball and had a shot from 25 yards, which took a deflection off the head of Davies, flat-footing Declan Rudd, the ball ending up in the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
And Phil Parkinson’s side found themselves back level five minutes before the break, when Olkowski fired hard against the under side of the bar, down and in. It had come as Ameobi had moved in from the from the right with the ball, laying it off to Josh Magennis, who in turn pushed the ball out to the No.16 who fired home from 16 yards.
A double-change at the break for PNE saw Tom Barkhuizen and Daniel Johnson on for Burke and Gallagher and the Lilywhites started on the front foot, Johnson with a shot pushed around the post for a brace of corners; Alnwick doing well when unsighted.
It became an end-to-end game and another substitute Louis Moult almost brought about a third with 18 minutes to go as he raced down the right onto Browne’s ball, as the Lilywhites counter-attacked. The No.9 put the ball across the face of the goal and Robinson sprinted down the left to get in a shot, but Alnwick turned it over the bar.
Robinson forced another save from the visiting keeper with 12 minutes to go, stinging his gloves from 20 yards, after a good ball in from Barkhuizen on the right from to find the No.7 in space inside the ‘D’.
There was five minutes of stoppage time added on that ran to seven in the end, but it was after the game that saw a moment of controversy, with referee Andrew Davies choosing to red card Ben Pearson and only a yellow for Joe Williams for an incident that must have happened after the whistle.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Clarke (c), Hughes, Pearson, Huntington (c), Davies, Barker (Moult, 61), Gallagher (Johnson, 46), Robinson, Browne, Burke (Barkhuizen, 46). Subs not used: Maxwell, Fisher, Earl, Harrop.
Bolton Wanderers line-up: Alnwick, Taylor (Grounds, 73), Lowe, Beevers, Ameobi, Olkowski, O’Neil, Williams, Magennis, Wildschut (Noone, 61), Wheater (c). Subs not used: Matthews, Vela, Oztumer, Donaldson, Hobbs.
Attendance: 16,331 (4,144 Bolton Wanderers fans)
Referee: Mr A Davies