Joe Garner nearly sealed victory for 10-man Preston North End as they played out an end-to-end goalless draw against Bradford City at Valley Parade.
Garner’s 83rd minute tap-in was ruled offside as he pounced on a Scott Laird flick-on from a teasing Paul Gallagher cross.
PNE’s Neil Kilkenny and Bradford’s Nathan Bennett were both sent off in the 23rd minute for violent conduct after the pair appeared to scuffle in the centre circle.
And the game erupted into a non-stop all action affair after the double dismissal as both sides battled to win all three points. But like the 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture at Deepdale back in October, City and PNE had to share the spoils.
North End manager Simon Grayson made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup fourth round for the midweek Roses clash.
David Buchanan and Chris Humphrey dropped to the bench as Grayson changed the starting formation to 3-5-2.
Scott Laird was brought back into the starting XI to join new boy Scott Wiseman as a wing-back.
And Jack King returned to a back three that also included Bailey Wright and Tom Clarke.
But Grayson was forced to play Garner as a lone striker and revamp the formation after Kilkenny was sent to the stands.
PNE started brightly as Wiseman crossed to Josh Brownhill in the seventh minute. Brownhill’s glancing header was spilled by goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin but the Bantams stopper collected soon after.
Debutante Adam Reach - who played for Shrewsbury when PNE faced them back in December - Hit an effort wide of the left-hand post for Bradford after they attacked in numbers.
But seconds later Brownhill made McLaughlin reach with a teasing, angled shot from the left of the penalty area that the diving keeper just gathered.
And the youngster tested the keeper yet again as he spun and shot 30-yards out from goal in the 14th minute.
Up the other end a James Hanson knock down and some smart passing in the penalty area allowed Aaron Mclean to hit an effort, but the sturdy Jack King blocked the shot for PNE.
In the 23rd minute both teams were reduced to 10 men as Referee Stuart Attwell dismissed Bennett and Kilkenny. Bennett was shown a straight red and Kilkenny - who had hit the ground after arms were raised in the middle of the pitch - was carded soon after.
Moments later PNE could have opened the scoring. Laird advanced down the left wing and his curling cross was met at the back post in the 27th minute by Paul Gallagher. But the Scot’s headed effort kissed the right hand post before falling agonisingly wide.
A Nathan Doyle effort in the 37th minute was sent blazing over the middle of the bar in the old stomping ground of rugby league side the Bradford Bulls thanks to a John Welsh deflection.
And from the subsequent corner Doyle stepped up to smack another effort hard and low through a crowd of bodies that was blocked in a jam-packed penalty area.
Bradford went on to dominate the latter stages of the first half. But Declan Rudd was on hand to produce a phenomenal fingertip save to deny Mclean who sent a header flying towards the left-hand corner in the 45th minute.
The second half was another box-to-box affair, Wiseman advanced down the right in the 47th minute but his foray into the opposition box was halted by a combination of two Bradford defenders and McLaughlin.
Clarke made a vital interception from a Bradford corner but almost immediately North End had the ball in the Bantams box after a swift counter-attack that led to Gallagher hitting a sweet shot that was saved by the keeper.
Garner pounced on a Bradford mistake and he slipped in Brownhill who hit a rocket straight at McLaughlin. The keeper just held on to the viscous shot in the 51st minute.
Within moments Mclean found himself one-on-one with Rudd and PNE’s keeper made another key stop as he ran out to the striker, made himself big and saved the strike with his feet.
Garner created space in Bradford’s penalty area before laying the ball off to Gallagher who hit a fierce strike straight at the keeper in the 58th minute.
Garner combined with Gallagher yet again and the Scot teed up Brownhill on the edge of the area but the youngster attempted to slip Garner back in and the move trickled into Bradford’s possession.
King blocked James Hanson in a promising position and Preston broke up-field. A sprinting Gallagher passed to Brownhill on the edge of the Bradford penalty area and the 18-year-old dug the ball out from under his feet before sending a superb strike crashing into the right-hand post in the 65th minute.
Australian Wright was booked for PNE as Bradford launched another attack minutes later.
Gallagher and Garner combined yet again in the 71st minute. Gallagher clipped a looping ball into the box but Garner could not latch onto the cross.
The duo linked up again in the 77th minute. Gallagher picked Garner out and the striker coolly took time to set himself up on the left before firing an effort wide.
Captain Welsh won a free-kick on the edge of the box in the 79th minute and Gallagher smacked the set-piece straight at the Bradford wall and buried the rebound into the sea of claret and amber at the second attempt.
Garner smashed the ball into the back of the net from six-yards out after swooping in on a Laird flick on in the 83rd minute - but the ‘Jackal’ was flagged offside.
Welsh was booked for a late tackle on Reach in the 85th minute and Wright brought down substitute Oliver McBurnie in the 87th minute but Bradford could only earn a corner from the set-piece in a promising position on the right-hand side.
Four minutes was added on at the end of the 90 but neither team could find a winner in a lacklustre close to an entertaining game.
PNE: Rudd, Clarke, King, Wright, Wiseman (Humphrey, 72), Welsh, Brownhill (Keane, 90), Kilkenny, Laird, Gallagher, Garner. Subs: Stuckmann, Keane, Holmes, Beavon, Buchanan, Hume.
Bradford City: McLaughlin, Darby, Davies, Hanson, Jones, Mclean (McBurnie, 72), Bates, McArdle, Doyle (Ravenhill, 81), Reach, Bennett. Subs: Jameson, Gray, Thompson, McHugh, Atkinson.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton)
Attendance: 13,686 (PNE: 1,114)