The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John McDougall

PRE­STON boss Si­mon Grayson be­lieves the late point earned against Black­burn in this Lan­cashire derby could turn out to be a valu­able one in their late charge for pro­mo­tion.

Tom Barkhuizen handed North End an early lead but El­liott Ben­nett and Craig Conway gave Black­burn the ad­van­tage head­ing to­wards full­time.

But with 90 min­utes on the clock Ai­den McGeady’s last-gasp strike res­cued a point for the Li­ly­whites.

“You can never ques­tion the char­ac­ter and spirit within the dress­ing room be­cause they keep go­ing to the very end and who knows where that point comes at the end of the sea­son,” Grayson said.

“It could be very, very valu­able and we’re de­lighted to have not lost the game.

“There’s teams in and around us who have to get into the play-offs. We don’t have to, but ul­ti­mately we’re try­ing to do it.

“I think it had a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing. It feels like a vic­tory for us, for the sup­port­ers and ul­ti­mately the point could be valu­able.”

Af­ter a scrappy start from both sides, Jor­dan Hugill fed in Barkhuizen who got the bet­ter of Ryan Nyambe to slot past Ja­son Steele and hand Pre­ston a 13thminute lead.

Rovers re­sponded through Ben­nett’s teas­ing cross af­ter 20 min­utes which Lu­cas Joao headed straight into Chris Maxwell’s arms, while Der­rick Wil­liams’ cross was later headed against the post by the Sh­effield Wed­nes­day loa­nee as Black­burn nearly lev­elled.

But Ben­nett made no mis­take three min­utes be­fore the break with a su­perb long-range ef­fort from 30 yards which flew past Maxwell.

Joao twisted and turned leav­ing Pre­ston play­ers on the floor with mes­meris­ing skill to feed in Marvin Emnes just be­fore half-time, who thought he had given Rovers the lead only to be flagged off­side.

North End winger Daryl Hor­gan de­liv­ered a sub­lime cross af­ter the break for Barkhuizen at the back post but the striker’s fin­ish­ing let him down.

And Rovers took a 56th-minute lead when the Li­ly­whites de­fence fell asleep and Emnes slipped in Conway to slot past Maxwell.

Steele was called into ac­tion to keep out Paul Gal­lagher’s low 82nd­minute ef­fort as Pre­ston sought an eqauliser, while Paul Hunt­ing­ton thought he had res­cued a point with a last-gasp header only to be flagged off­side.

But McGeady struck deep into in­jury time af­ter re­ceiv­ing Clarke’s cut back and fir­ing past Steele to sal­vage a late draw for the Li­ly­whites.

De­spite now be­ing seven games un­beaten as Black­burn boss, Tony Mow­bray ad­mit­ted frus­tra­tion at the amount of draws his side have pro­duced in their fight against rel­e­ga­tion.

“It’ll go down right to the death, I’m pretty sure,” he said. “It’s just a frus­tra­tion that seven games with five draws is too many draws.

“And yet you have to take a huge pos­i­tive that they’re un­beaten in them seven games against some teams who are at the top end of the ta­ble com­pet­ing to try and make the play-offs.

“The team’s pretty dev­as­tated in there but we have to take it on the chin, we have to look at the pos­i­tives.

“But re­alise along the way we have to man­age games bet­ter and we have to see them ones out and get the three points.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

SO CLOSE: Black­burn Rovers’ El­liott Ben­nett scores their first goal and, in­set, Sam Gal­lagher looks de­jected at full-time

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