Memory match: Blackburn v PNE

Absence clearly made the heart grow fonder as far as Preston North End fans were concerned for last season's visit to Ewood Park.

Thursday, 16th March 2017, 10:36 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:52 am
Jordan Hugill got the winner at Ewood last season

More than 15 years on from their previous trip there, 6,984 of them made the trip to watch the Lilywhites take on Blackburn.

That was the biggest away following for any league game in England last term and it was well worth it.

North End recorded their first victory in Rovers’ back yard since 1979.

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They came from behind to win 2-1, Joe Garner netting against his former employers and Jordan Hugill volleying a fine winner.

It sparked big celebrations in the ‘J’ End and saw PNE complete a hat-trick of derby away wins, Burnley and 
Bolton having been beaten.

There was a frantic start to the contest which had been given a lunchtime kick-off.

Both teams saw efforts blocked in the box, before the hosts took a 13th-minute lead.

It came from one-time Preston loanee Elliott Ward.

Hope Akpan’s header from an Elliott Bennett corner was tipped against the bar by PNE keeper Anders Linegaard.

The ball bounced back into the path of Ward who found the net with a first-time shot from 10 yards.

Rovers looked to ram home their advantage, Ben Marshall seeing a shot well blocked by Bailey Wright.

However, the game was to turn PNE’s way in the 23rd minute.

Adam Reach’s cross from the left wing was chested down by Paul Gallagher into the path of Alan Browne, the Irishman’s low shot parried by keeper Jason Steele.

The rebound fell to Hugill, his shot on the way into the net until centre-half Shane Duffy dived to handle it on the line.

Referee Eddie Ilderton pointed to the spot and sent Duffy for an early bath.

Garner stepped up and tucked the penalty into the bottom corner, Steele going the right way but unable to get a glove to it.

The North End striker did a ‘chicken dance’ celebration, running down the touchline before being mobbed by his team-mates.

It proved to be Garner’s last competitive goal for PNE before being sold to Rangers four months later.

The visitors took the lead two minutes before half-time – and with some style too.

Like the equaliser, the goal had its origins on the left wing, Reach sending over a cross which Garner met on his chest and pushed into the path of Gallagher a few yards outside the box.

Gallagher flighted a lovely first-time cross over the top of the Rovers back line, with Hugill stealing in behind to volley home right-footed.

Early in the second half, Lindegaard saved Akpan’s curling shot.

North End had chances to stretch their lead on the break, Ben Pearson shooting wide after being played in by Reach.

Greg Cunningham saw a shot saved by Steele, while at the other end, Chris Brown went down under a challenge from Wright and was booked for simulation.

Daniel Johnson, on as a substitute for Pearson, saw a shot blocked in front of goal after good work by Calum Woods on the right.

Four minutes from time, Jermaine Beckford joined the action from the bench and came close to scoring inside 60 seconds.

Gallagher’s ball over the top sent Beckford clear down the inside-left channel, the striker shooting across goal and just wide – Hugill having been looking for a pass in the middle.