Josh Brownhill’s injury time free-kick nearly sent Preston North End’s former boss Billy Davies crashing out of the FA Cup fourth round as the Lilywhites drew 0-0 with Nottingham Forest.
The 18-year-old stepped up to take the set-piece from just outside the penalty area and Nottingham Forest’s goalkeeper Karl Darlow parried the fierce strike away from goal as the rain lashed down at the City Ground.
League One promotion contenders North End set up a replay after a valiant away display as they restricted Davies’ in-form, high-scoring Championship side to one shot on target.
This was definitely not a no score, bore draw as PNE manager Simon Grayson made two changes to the starting XI that drew 1-1 with Coventry City at Deepdale.
Kevin Davies served the first of his three match suspension after being sent off against Coventry, whilst Lee Holmes dropped down to the bench.
Brownhill and Chris Humphrey were recalled to the side as PNE attempted to reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time since 2008.
Forest started brightly as Jamie Paterson found himself in space 25-yards out, but he sliced a shot wide of goal.
Simon Cox stung Declan Rudd’s palms eight minutes in. He turned and smacked a fierce shot from the right-hand side of the penalty box towards the roof of goal, but PNE’s keeper was on hand to stop Forest’s only shot on target.
Minutes later Brownhill attempted the spectacular, but his overhead kick trickled to safety.
John Welsh sent Humphrey scampering to the byline and the Jamaica international marked his return to the staring line-up 13 minutes in by expertly cutting the ball back to an on-running Gallagher. But the Scot could not complete the move as he hit a tame effort straight at Darlow.
Garner had a penalty appeal waved away by Premier League referee Mike Dean in the 38th minute.
Some slick passing on the edge of the penalty area by Forest set Gonzalo Jara through on the right-hand side of the box. He slipped the ball to Jamie Mackie in the 39th minute, but he skied the ball over the bar inside the six-yard box,
PNE fought back as captain John Welsh attempted to lob the keeper in the 40th minute, but his shot looped harmlessly into the Trent End.
As half-time approached Forest pushed forward and earned a corner. From the subsequent set-piece Tom Clarke was forced into action as he headed the ball out to safety at the back post under pressure from two Forest players.
Minutes into the second half Bailey Wright slid in to knock the ball away from Mackie who had ran into a promising position in PNE’s box.
But PNE dominated the rest of the half. Welsh set the tone by sending Garner on his way in the 55th minute and the ‘Jackal’ - playing as a lone striker - found some space on the right and smashed a powerful effort just over the bar from 20 yards out.
Minutes later Gallagher’s shot was saved on the second attempt by Darlow.
And the lively Scot was at the forefront of the action again in the 63rd minute - his free-kick on the right just outside the penalty box fizzed towards Darlow in goal. The keeper dropped Gallagher’s fierce shot in the torrential rain but recovered almost immediately to deny PNE.
Neil Kilkenny slipped the ball inside to midfield partner Welsh, the captain ran onto the ball and smacked a powerful effort just over the bar in the 71st minute.
Almost immediately Forest launched a counter-attack and nearly opened the scoring after some great play from Darius Henderson.
Holmes tested Darlow from distance and Forest’s keeper skilfully parried the substitute’s strike away from goal in the 74th minute.
PNE upped the tempo and some great interplay between Welsh and Kilkenny found Gallagher in space. But the Scotsman skied his effort way over the bar.
A sweet strike from outside the box by David Vaughan in the 84th minute was Nottingham’s first attempt on goal in the second half and the ball flew off target.
Utility man Jack King was brought on for third round hat-trick hero Garner in the 85th minute and the jack of all trades was in the action immediately heading over from a Holmes corner.
King played up front with another substitute Iain Hume as Grayson switched formation to 4-4-2. The former builder tried his luck from distance and a sodden Darlow parried the ball away yet again.
Henderson’s free header could not trouble North End in added time as 2,055 travelling PNE fans urged their team on.
And the last action of the match fittingly fell to North End - Hume’s cross-field ball found King who buckled under the challenge of Jara. The referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and Brownhill’s screaming shot was just pushed away from goal by the Forest keeper.
PNE will now face Nottingham Forest in a replay at Deepdale on February 4th.
PNE: Rudd, Wiseman, Clarke, Wright, Buchanan, Brownhill, Welsh, Kilkenny (Hume, 82), Humphrey (Holmes, 70), Gallagher, Garner (King, 85). Subs: Stuckmann, King, Laird, Beavon, Keane.
Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, collins, Reid, Mackie (Abdoun, 59), Halford, Jara, Paterson, Vaughan, Majewski (Derbyshire, 74), Cox (Henderson, 59). Subs: Harding, Moussi, , Lascelles, De Vries.
Attendance: 26,465 (2,055 PNE)
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)