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Match Reports

Match Report: PNE 1 Blackburn Rovers 1

22 April 2023

Preston North End earned a point in stoppage-time against Blackburn Rovers as Liam Delap’s cross was deflected into the back of the net in the 94th minute.

It looked as though PNE were going to suffer defeat after Sammie Szmodics’ 80th-minute strike, but a Delap cross into the area was inadvertently sent beyond goalkeeper Aynsley Pears by Rovers defender Dominic Hyam.

There were three changes made from the midweek defeat to Swansea City, with Josh Onomah, Troy Parrott and Patrick Bauer all coming in – the latter for his first start since December.

It was North End who had the first opportunity of the day courtesy of the in-form Cannon, who fired a shot just wide of goal after being found by Onomah.

Former PNE youngster Tyrhys Dolan then looked to have found space for a shot at goal at the other end a few moments later, but Jordan Storey came up with a good challenge to ensure he got no further.

On 24 minutes, Woodman was called into action for the first time as Joe Rankin-Costello took aim from range, with the goalkeeper producing a smart stop down to his left.

A couple of minutes later Brad Potts could have opened the scoring from a similar position to his goal which broke the deadlock in the last Lancashire derby against Blackpool, but this time he blazed over the bar.

Whiteman managed to hit the target soon after, however it was easy enough for Aynsley Pears to collect, and the midfielder also had the last effort of the half from a 20-yard free-kick which was saved.

Rovers made a double change at the break, with Ryan Hedges one of those to come on, and he looked to find Szmodics in the box, who would have had a tap-in were it not for a fantastic recovery challenge from Whiteman.

Szmodics had the ball in the back of the net on the hour mark, but the goal was correctly ruled out as Rovers’ No.8 had used his arm to send it off the underside of the bar and beyond Woodman.

Whiteman tried his luck in the 71st minute from all of 25 yards, sending a low strike to the left of Pears, who parried away from goal.

Rovers then took the lead with ten minutes of normal time left, as Lewis Travis slotted the ball through for Szmodics who cut inside and cutely found the far corner.

PNE came so close to finding an equaliser in the 93rd minute courtesy of substitute Ali McCann, who saw a poked effort towards goal somehow kept out by Pears.

There was then a huge 30 seconds as Hedges broke through on goal and had a golden opportunity to make it two, but his attempted chip was tame and collected by Woodman. North End's goalkeeper launched the ball forward for Potts to flick on to Delap, and the Manchester City loanee fired a vicious cross into the area and the ball struck the left leg of Hyam, sending it into the top corner to earn a late, late point for North End to keep them within touching distance of the top six.

PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey, Bauer (Woodburn, 76), Hughes; Potts, Whiteman, Onomah (Delap, 83), Johnson (McCann, 70), Fernández; Cannon, Parrott. Subs not used: Cornell, Lindsay, Ledson, Slater.

Blackburn Rovers line-up: Pears; Rankin-Costello, Carter, Hyam, Pickering; Travis, Morton (Brittain, 89), A. Wharton; Thomas (Hedges, 45), Szmodics (S. Wharton, 89), Dolan (Brereton-Diaz, 45). Subs not used: Kaminski, Dack, Garrett.

Attendance: 20,721 (4,932 Blackburn Rovers fans).

Referee: Mr R Jones.

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