Match report: PNE 3 Blackburn 2

PNE v Blackburn

PNE v Blackburn

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Preston North End saw off Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers in a pulsating clash at Deepdale.

It was the Lilywhites' first home league victory over Rovers since August 1978 and provided plenty of entertainment for a 14,527 crowd and the watching audience on television.

Three times North End had to take the lead to collect the victory, two first-half goals from Daniel Johnson equalised by a Danny Graham double.

Callum Robinson netted the winner with 10 minutes remaining, drilling home a low finish from a Greg Cunningham cross.

Johnson put the home side ahead in the 18th minute, curling in a fine finish from 20 yards.

Graham levelled three minutes later after Chris Maxwell had saved his penalty, two further shots blocked before Graham netted.

It was from the penalty spot that North End regained the lead in the 31st minute, Darragh Lenihan having handled as he challenged Simon Makienok.

Rovers's second equaliser came in the 70th minute, his shot taking a touch off North End skipper Tom Clarke on its way in.

But Robinson's goal gave PNE the local bragging rights a return to winning ways after two draws and a defeat.

North End had made two changes to the side beaten at Sheffield Wednesday, Makienok and Marnick Vermijl coming in for the injured Aiden McGeady and Alan Browne who dropped to the bench.

They set-up in a 4-4-2, Vermijl on the right side of midfield and Robinson on the left.

From the first whistle, the game was played at a good tempo with both sides looking lively.

Early on, Ben Pearson's shot from 20 yards was blocked by a Rovers player in the box, there being a suspicion of handball.

PNE took the lead in the 18th minute, Robinson starting the move with a run down the left-wing.

His low cross found Vermijl in the box, the Belgian taking a touch before laying the ball back into the path of Johnson who curled a first-time left-foot shot past Rovers goalkeeper Jason Steele from 20 yards.

The midfielder celebrated by putting the ball up the front of his shirt, hinting at some good news away from the pitch.

Johnson quickly turned villain though. giving away the penalty which led - eventually - to Blackburn's equaliser three minutes later.

His sliding tackle on Sam Gallagher dumped the striker on the floor, referee Kevin Friend pointing straight to the spot.

Graham stepped up to the take the penalty, Maxwell diving to his right to parry it and block the rebound.

A third attempt was also blocked by a Preston leg before Graham fired home at the fourth attempt.

Makienok and Cunningham both had efforts, the Danish striker heading over and Cunningham sending a volley straight at Steele who held at the second attempt.

Preston regained the lead just past the half-hour as Lenihan handled a cross in an attempt to stop it reaching Makienok's head - it still reached the Dane who forced the keeper into a fine save.

But Mr Friend was close to the incident and pointed to the spot, booking the Rovers defender.

It was the first penalty which PNE had been awarded this season and Johnson calmly tucked it into the bottom corner after a stuttering run-up.

North End had their tails up, a confident run from Robinson ending with him driving a shot from 20 yards inches over the angle of far post and bar.

Blackburn had a good spell in the few minutes before the interval, Charlie Mulgrew volleying wide from a corner, then a header from Graham was tipped behind by Maxwell diving to his right.

Leninhan met the the resulting corner kick with a powerful header, it travelling just past the post and wide.

At the start of the second half, Makienok and Vermijl linked well down the right, Vermijl's low cross finding Jordan Hugill in the box who lifted a first-time shot high over the top.

Hugill was also way off target with a 58th minute volley from Makienok's knock down.

Rovers began to mount plenty of pressure as the game passed through the hour mark, it needing a fine sliding block by Bailey Wright to take Graham's shot on the turn behind for a corner.

That pressure paid off in the 70th minute when the visitors equalised for the second time.

Derrick Williams' slid a pass into the Graham to the left of goal, his low shot touching off Tom Clarke as he slid in to block and inside the near post.

Hugill glanced a header wide from Pearson's cross as Preston looked to regain their lead, then Alex Baptiste put an effort just wide after meeting a Johnson free-kick.

Ben Pringle replaced Hugill in the 76th minute, the switch bringing Robinson inside alongside Makienok.

That worked in Preston favour as they took the lead for the third time four minutes after the change was made.

Cunningham did superbly to set it up, his surging run taking him down the left channel before squaring a pass inside to Robinson in the box.

Robinson showed quick feet to take a touch before beating Steele with a low shot at the near post, the keeper getting fingertips to it but unable to take the power off it.

North End had to see out more than six minutes of stoppage-time but did so well to take the points.

PNE: Maxwell, Baptiste, Clarke, Wright, Cunningham, Vermijl (Spurr 87) Pearson, Johnson, Robinson (Huntington 90), Hugill (Pringle 76), Makienok. Subs (not used): Browne, Grimshaw, May, Lindegaard.

Rovers: Steele, Marshall, Lenihan, Mulgrew (Greer 79), Williams, Feeney (Emnes 52), Lowe, Evans, Conway (Stokes 87), Gallagher, Graham. Subs (not used): Byrne, Akpan, Bennett, Raya.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

Attendance: 14,527 (2,529 away)