Full-time: Crewe Alexandra 1 PNE 1

Crewe v PNE
Crewe v PNE
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Super-sub Jermaine Beckford’s late strike spared Preston North End’s blushes as they drew 1-1 with Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road.

PNE dominated the game but the clash only sparked into life in the final 10 minutes when Crewe took the lead.

North End failed to take their chances and Crewe’s only shot on target in the whole game was George Cooper’s 81st minute opener.

But Beckford - who was dropped from the starting XI - latched on to Kevin Davies’ flick-on two minutes later to level the scoreline.

PNE threw everything at Crewe in the closing stages as Davies, Beckford and Tom Clarke all went close to bagging the illusive winner.

But the point enabled North End to leapfrog promotion rivals MK Dons into third place in the League One table after the Dons lost 3-0 to Walsall

PNE boss Simon Grayson made four changes to the side that beat Barnsley 1-0 on Boxing Day.

Alan Browne and Josh Brownhill came into the starting XI in place of Neil Kilkenny and Chris Humphrey who dropped to the bench.

Scott Wiseman had recovered from the flu virus that made him miss the Boxing Day clash and replaced Calum Woods at right back.

Andy Little started in place of Beckford but the first 70 minutes of the clash was a lacklustre affair.

In the 36th minute Davies teed-up Josh Brownhill who stormed forward towards Crewe’s box. The youngster unselfishly passed the ball to Gallagher on his left but the Scot fired the ball straight at Crewe keeper Ben Garratt.

Moments later Davies latched on to Scott Wiseman’s cross but his header ballooned over the bar as PNE upped the ante.

But Crewe ended the half brighter as Nicky Ajose blasted the ball over the bar in stoppage time.

Captain Welsh stung the palms of Garratt with a fierce strike in the 58th minute.

And PNE nearly opened the scoring minutes later as Little went one-on-one with Garratt. But Crewe’s keeper thwarted Little’s dream comeback as he managed to block his strike.

Beckford came off the bench and made an immediate impact. He pounced on Davies’ knock down and forced Garratt to make a good save.

And minutes later Beckford toe-poked Welsh’s cross agonisingly wide of the keepers right hand post from just three yards out.

Crewe opened the scoring in the 81st minute as an unmarked Cooper ghosted in at the top of the box and smashed the ball into the bottom right corner.

But moments later super sub Beckford scored his second goal of the season after pouncing six-yards out and firing past Garratt.

Davies’ shot was deflected away from goal and Laird attempted the spectacular but spectacularly fluffed his long range shot as it flew way wide of goal.

Beckford teed-up Davies in stoppage time but despite taking two bites at the cherry the veteran striker could not force the ball past the Crewe defender.

And Clarke’s header was blocked on the line just before the final whistle as Crewe held PNE to a 1-1 draw.

After a lengthy lay-off due to a groin injury Bailey Wright was named on the bench but did not make an appearance.

PNE: Stuckmann, Wiseman, Huntington, Clarke, Laird, Browne, Welsh (Kilkenny, 86), Brownhill, Little (Humphrey, 60), Gallagher (Beckford, 67), Davies. Subs not used: Jones, Wright, Woods, King.

Crewe: Garratt, Guthrie, Davis, Turton (Cooper, 67), Baillie, Leigh, Haber (Ikpeazu, 62), Ness, Stewart, Ajose, Grant: Subs not used: Shearer, Tootle, Nolan, Jones, Ng.

Referree: Seb Stockbridge (Tyne and Wear)

Attendance: 6429 (PNE 2176)