Dave Seddon’s match verdict: Preston 1, MK Dons 1

North End's Jermaine Beckford scores the opening goal
North End's Jermaine Beckford scores the opening goal
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Outfield players doing an emergency stint in nets is not unheard of, but making a penalty save too – and a good one at that – is a rarity.

Alex Revell did just that at Deepdale, denying Preston victory and giving MK Dons a slight glimmer of hope in their battle against the drop.

Nicky Maynard beats Paul Huntington to the ball and scores the equalising goal

Nicky Maynard beats Paul Huntington to the ball and scores the equalising goal

Joe Garner was the man to suffer at Revell’s hands,seeing his late spot kick pushed behind by the striker-turned-gloveman.

The levels of frustration among the home faithful had been growing during a poor second-half showing, the penalty miss only adding to the groans.

North End should have been pushing at an open door when Eoin Doyle was sent tumbling by keeper Cody Cropper.

Out came the red card for Cropper and with all three substitutes used by MK Dons, they had no choice but to put an outfield player between the sticks.

Cody Cropper was shown a straight red card for this foul in the penalty area on  Eoin Doyle

Cody Cropper was shown a straight red card for this foul in the penalty area on Eoin Doyle

Kyle McFadzean was the initial choice before Revell put his hand up.

It could be that the delay in taking the penalty and the odds being seemingly stacked against the stand-in keeper, weighed on the mind of Garner.

He struck it okay in front of the Town End but could only watch as Revell dived to his left to push it away.

For good measure, Revell hit his face on the post and needed treatment for a cut near his left eye.

Preston were left kicking themselves that they did not win this one and really, the penalty miss should not have mattered.

They had the chances to finish off their visitors in the first half, an early goal from Jermaine Beckford having given them the best of starts.

In the second half they were poor though, Nicky Maynard’s bundled effort bringing MK Dons level.

Even after Garner’s miss from the spot, the hosts had a second golden chance to win the game.

Callum Robinson only had Revell to beat when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box but the substitute drove his 90th minute shot over the bar.

Definitely a case of two points dropped, a crumb of consolation being that the draw meant back-to-back losses did not become three.

On a previous visit here, Revell had scored a play-off goal for Rotherham at the same end of the ground.

The 32-year-old said: “I don’t know why I went for that corner, I kind of went early and the rest is history as they say.

“Sometimes you muck around in training going in goal.

“Kyle (McFadzean) was ready to go in but the gaffer told me to put the gloves on.

“After saving it I carried on with my dive and ended up heading the post.

“I would rather have got a goal than save a penalty. It is a headline but I wanted to win the game.”

PNE boss Simon Grayson admitted that he did not get a huge feeling of hope before Garner stepped-up.

“It probably summed up how we were in the second half,” said Grayson.

“I had a feeling that Joe would go and miss it.

“Had we scored with it, we would have got out of jail and taken in.

“We still had another good opportunity after that when Callum Robinson did not hit the target.

“Although we didn’t play well in the second half, we still had the chances to win the game.”

You do wonder whether PNE are running out of a bit of steam as the end of their first season back at this level looms into view.

While the first-half show was good, the manner in which they were second best after the break suggested that there are some tired minds and legs.

Maybe subconsciously, the eye has gone off the ball for some players with the play-offs no longer in reach.

A long campaign could just be taking it toll and the midweek trip to Birmingham might be an opportunity to freshen things up.

If you are going to search for positives from this game, it was a first start and first goal since Wembley last May for Beckford.

Bar a couple of substitute appearances towards the end of August, we did not see the striker until last month.

Knee surgery kept him on the sidelines for the best part of seven months.

After four games coming on as a sub and feeling his way back to full sharpness, he got his chance from the start on Saturday and took less than six minutes to find the net.

It was typical Beckford, getting behind the defence to go one-on-one and lift a shot over the keeper.

He kept going until the 66th minute when Garner replaced him from the bench.

It was a rare benching for Garner, the last time he had been among the substitutes for a league game being at Brighton in October when coming back from a ban.

Beckford had Doyle for company up front in a 4-4-2 system, the pair linking-up for the opener.

Out wide from Adam Reach and Paul Gallagher, with Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson teaming-up in the centre of the park.

Of the middle two, I thought Pearson was by far the more effective, hence an element of surprise when it was him and not DJ, who gave way to Alan Browne for the last 20 minutes.

You could not fault too much of Preston’s first-half display against an MK Dons side who look to be heading back to League One.

Although this draw was a morale-booster, it still left them nine points adrift of safety with four to play.

Beckford has already had a sight of goal by the time he scored, scuffing a shot straight at Cropper from the edge of the box.

He was more clinical the next time, a header from Greg Cunningham down the left channel helped over the top of the Dons defence by a Doyle flick.

BECKFORD burst clear to lift a shot over Cropper who had been slightly hesitant in coming off his line.

A steady stream of chances came Preston’s way as the half went on but the away team never looked totally out of it.

The closest the hosts went to a second goal came from a Cunningham drive which Cropper saw slightly late but clawed away excellently.

MK’s equaliser was a bit of a mess from a North End view, Josh Murphy’s low cross from the left escaping the grasp of Anders Lindegaard.

It squirmed through to MAYNARD who held off a Paul Huntington challenge to net from close in.

The headline moment of the contest came with nine minutes left, Lindegaard’s kick headed on by Garner to release Doyle.

He was taken down by Cropper, ref Stuart Attwell deeming him the last man and producing the red card.

Garner, who scored from the spot at Blackburn two weeks earlier, could only watch as Revell flung himself across goal to save.

Has an outfield player saved a penalty at Deepdale before? Time to delve into the history books.

Preston North End: Anders Lindegaard 6, Marnick Vermijl 6, Paul Huntington 6, Bailey Wright 7, Greg Cunningham 6, Adam Reach 6 (Callum Robinson 79), Ben Pearson 7 (Alan Browne 72), Daniel Johnson 6, Paul Gallagher 6, Eoin Doyle 6, Jermaine Beckford 7 (Joe Garner 66). Subs (not used): Tom Clarke, John Welsh, Jordan Hugill, Chris Kirkland.

Booked: Wright 65

MK Dons: Cody Cropper, Jordan Spence (Carl Baker 77), Joe Walsh, Kyle McFadzean, Dean Lewington, Darren Potter, Jake Forster-Caskey (Jonny Williams 46), Dean Bowditch, Samir Carruthers, Josh Murphy, Nicky Maynard (Alex Revell 66). Subs (not used): Antony Kay, Daniel Powell, Kevin Long, Charlie Burns.

Booked: Carruthers 48

Sent-off: Cropper 82

Ref: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Attendance: 10,457 (250 away)