Joy from Main gives way to pain for battling Rovers

Curtis Main heads Rovers in front
Curtis Main heads Rovers in front
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Jermaine Beckford volleyed home deep into stoppage-time to rescue a point for Preston against gutsy Rovers.

It was looking as Rovers were set to complete a stunning turnaround in the final ten minutes as they came from behind to lead 2-1 at big-spending North End.

Curtis Main celebrates putting Rovers in front at Preston

Curtis Main celebrates putting Rovers in front at Preston

Initially it had been looking as though North End were set to hang on to the lead handed to them by Daniel Johnson in the first half.

However, Rovers levelled through sub Harry Forrester’s low finish nine minutes from time, then Curtis Main must have thought he had won the game three minutes later when he headed home Reece Wabara’s cross.

Dejected Rovers were denied a fifth win in their last seven games when sub Beckford struck seconds before the final whistle.

Rovers boss Paul Dickov unsurprisingly named an unchanged starting line-up for what was sure to be a stern Sky Bet League One trip to Preston.

Abdul Razak

Abdul Razak

Clearly the Scot saw enough during the weekend’s comfortable home win against Colchester to resist any alterations.

Preston had been flying, with the weekend’s thumping 4-0 win at Oldham being their fifth on the spin.

Boss Simon Grayson made just the single change, with skipper Tom Clarke returning in place of ex-Barnsley man Scott Wiseman in defence.

Rovers made a bright start at Deepdale, twice going close to a dream opening goal inside the first five minutes.

Main threatened first, blasting disappointingly over the top after latching on to Enda Stevens’ long through-ball.

Seconds later Abdul Razak fizzed in a superb strike from 25 yards which North End ‘keeper Sam Johnstone had to dive full length to palm away for a corner-kick.

Preston hardly looked like potential Championship contenders in the opening spell, with Rovers continuing to pin the hosts back.

Nathan Tyson was next to make his presence felt as he glanced a header narrowly wide from a neat Main cross.

It was against the run of play when North End broke the deadlock in the 14th minute, though it was a cracking goal.

After smart build-up down Rovers’ right, Paul Gallagher touched the ball to Daniel Johnson, with the Aston Villa loanee lashing home his fourth goal in as many games clinically past Stephen Bywater from just inside the box.

The goal was a little harsh on battling Rovers, but they stuck to their task.

After Johnson had fired wide with another effort, at the other end Main was alert in meeting a measured pass from Richie Wellens, only to see a well-struck shot deflected wide for another corner-kick.

Preston responded with renewed purpose, though. Gallagher saw a shot deflected wide, before the dangerous Johnson flicked in a super cross for Joe Garner, who nodded a whisker past the post.

Main’s shot on the turn flew over the top seconds before the break, but by half-time Rovers were still behind despite having given a very creditable account of themselves.

At the start of the second period Rovers almost fell further behind following an outrageous piece of skill from Johnson.

Pouncing on a poor clearance from Bywater, the first-half goalscorer fired a shot straight back at goal from around 40 yards, only for the effort to fly over the crossbar.

By the hour mark Rovers were right back in contention. Some good possession and sharp wide play wasn’t threatening to break North End’s resistance.

Dean Furman was looking particularly lively, and bang on the hour mark he wriggled past Scott Laird down the right flank before lashing an angled drive into the side-netting.

Tyson was also beginning to find a few gaps in the normally steadfast Preston defence, though in the 65th minute he just couldn’t stretch enough to reach Main’s cross.

Time was beginning to run out on Rovers and boss Dickov was becoming more and more animated on thr touchline, but his team just couldn’t find that precious equaliser.

That was until the dramatic late twists as Forrester and Main turned the game on its head, before Beckford struck the final blow.