Match report: PNE 1 Rotherham 1

Stevie May's first goal in Preston North End colours was the highlight of an uninspiring final home game of the season.

Saturday, 29th April 2017, 6:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:54 pm
Stevie May goes for goal on his return to the Preston North End starting line-up.

The Scottish striker, making his first start since October 2015 after injury, curled a 20-yard shot into the top corner three minutes before half-time.

It brought North End level after relegated Rotherham had taken a ninth-minute level with a Richard Smallwood goal.

The draw ended a run of four defeats but the game was flat and it was only in the closing minutes when PNE looked like they might win it - substitute Simon Makeinok seeing a header cleared off the line and another hit the bar.

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Captain for the day Aiden McGeady sends over a cross against Rotherham.

May had missed 15 months of football after damaging three ligaments in his right knee in November 2015.

He'd been given three substitute appearances to help build his fitness and this was a long-awaited start for the former Sheffield Wednesday man.

Simon Grayson had made two changes to the side beaten at Newcastle, May and Alex Baptiste replacing Andy Boyle and the suspended Paul Gallagher.

Aiden McGeady was named skipper for the afternoon in the absence of Gallagher and Tom Clarke, responding with a man-of-the-match performance.

Captain for the day Aiden McGeady sends over a cross against Rotherham.

Chris Maxwell was called into action early, diving to his right in the second minute to save Jon Taylor's 30-yard free-kick.

North End's first chance saw Tommy Spurr whip over a low cross from the left which May reached on the stretch but could only direct the wrong side of the far post.

Rotherham went ahead in the ninth minute, a corner cleared out of box as far as Smallwood who struck a shot on the half-volley past Maxwell and into the far corner.

They went ever so close to stretching that advantage four minutes later, Tom Adeyemi's curling shot from the edge of the box brushing the post.

Daniel Johnson saw a shot blocked after a surge forward from midfield, his follow-up effort also hitting a defender.

North End looked off the pace for large parts of the first half and another chance fell the visitors' way in the shape of a long distance effort from Jonson Clarke-Harris which bounced just in front of Maxwell, hit the keeper's chest and went behind.

McGeady put a shot straight at the keeper after working his way into a shooting position with some good footwork, then another shot from the skipper deflected into the path of Jordan Hugill who scuffed wide.

A moment of quality brought PNE level three minutes before the interval, May picking up possession to the left of the 'D' on the edge of the box and curling a delightful right-foot finish into the far top corner.

Less than 30 seconds into the second half, Maxwell had to get down low to make a one-handed save from Adeyemi's shot on the turn.

In the 58th minute, McGeady's cross looked to be dropping in at the far post until back-pedalling keeper Richard O'Donnell got a hand to it.

A 25-yard free-kick from McGeady stayed low and brushed the side-netting, before a late flourish almost delivered a Preston winner - two chances falling the way of Makienok.

The first came in the 85th minute, Makienok meeting a McGeady cross and heading goalwards, Semi Ajayi getting back to head clear.

Then in the 89th minute, Daryl Horgan's cross found the Danish striker who's header looped against the bar and back into the gloves of O'Donnell.

PNE: Maxwell, Browning, Baptiste, Huntington, Spurr, Barkhuizen (Horgan 65), Browne, Johnson, McGeady, May (Robinson 65), Hugill (Makienok 80). Subs (not used): Vermijl, Pringle, Boyle, Lindegaard.

Rotherham: O'Donnell, Fisher, Wood (Belaid 88), Ajayi, Mattock, Vaulks, Smallwood, Frecklington (Yates 80), Taylor, Adeyemi, Clarke-Harris (Clarke 73). Subs (not used): Bray, Purrington, Warren, Bilboe.

Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside)

Attendance: 11,032 (471 away)