Simon Grayson praised the quality of Jermaine Beckford after the substitute rescued a point for Preston North End with a last-gasp equaliser against Doncaster last night.
Beckford struck with 94 minutes played, executing a fine far-post volley to earn a 2-2 draw at Deepdale.
that is why he has played in the Premier League and clubs have paid a lot of money for him in his career.
He had joined the action in the 85th minute after the Lilywhites had fallen 2-1 behind to a Curtis Main header.
Four minutes earlier, Harry Forrester had equalised for the visitors, after Daniel Johnson had put the hosts ahead in the first half.
It was Beckford’s second goal as a sub in successive games after netting on his return from a five-week illness lay-off at Oldham on Saturday.
The draw proved enough to lift North End into second place as MK Dons had lost 2-1 to Chesterfield.
With Swindon also beaten by Gillingham, PNE have strengthened their push for automatic promotion.
Grayson, who has been shortlisted for the League One manager of the month award, said: “I was going to put Jermaine on a little bit earlier but didn’t want to use the last sub too early.
“When we brought Kevin Davies on, we were thinking of bringing Jermaine on as well to run over the top and turn them, but I had to be aware of something else happening so I saved the sub for a little longer.
“We have missed Jermaine in the period he was out with his illness.
“He has got quality, that is what he brings to us.
“The goal he scored at Oldham on Saturday was a great finish with his left foot.
“This was a right-foot volley and that is why he has played at the level he has.
“Hopefully he can go on a longer goal-scoring run.
“He was composed and not too many other players on the pitch would have executed it like that.
“But that is why he has played in the Premier League and clubs have paid a lot of money for him in his career.
“It was just great to see it hit the back of the net – when you make substitutions you hope they pay dividends.
“We didn’t have that sort of option in January.”
North End were far from their best last night, with Doncaster the better side for long periods in terms of possession and their passing.
Johnson gave PNE a 13th-minute lead with his fourth goal in four games but there was an inevitability about Donny’s equaliser nine minutes from time.
And when the visitors took the lead, it looked like PNE’s unbeaten run in the league was going to end at the five-game mark – until Beckford’s timely intervention.
Grayson said: “In the first half we played quite well, passed it around well and had some energy about us.
“We scored a good goal and had some other half chances.
“In the second half we didn’t play forward enough, didn’t get into their half of the pitch enough or put them under pressure.
“Conceding two quick goals then rocked us.
“We had to throw bodies forward and thankfully the ball fell to probably the only man on the pitch who would have finished that.
“It felt like a win for us.
“I suppose what goes around comes around, we conceded a last-minute equaliser at their place in August and last night we did that.
“We would have liked to have won the game but when you look at Doncaster, they have had a good run lately.
“They have some good players with Championship experience who have been around the block.
“We needed a second goal to kill the game off but in the second half we were too deep.
“We played too many short passes, didn’t work their back four and you have to do that, play the conditions and the elements.
“Sometimes a 40-yard ball over the top gives you the chance to get out and get a breather.
“We kept going, showed a lot of desire and I was very relieved to see the ball hit the back of the net.”
n Grayson will find out on Friday whether he has won the February manager of the month award for League One – he is up against Steve Cotterill (Bristol City), Nigel Clough (Sheffield United) and Rob Page (Port Vale).