Blackburn 1 Preston North End 2 match report: Lancashire derby joy for PNE at Ewood Park

Goals from Greg Cunningham and Liam Lindsay helped Preston North End to victory over Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

Friday, 12th February 2021, 10:13 pm
Updated Friday, 12th February 2021, 10:14 pm

The Lilywhites had that Friday feeling in frozen East Lancashire, collecting only their second win of 2021 and gaining revenge for Rovers' win at Deepdale three months ago.

They were the better side throughout, putting in a good shift all over the pitch to claim the three points and pull level with their hosts in the table.

Cunningham produced a fine finish to give PNE a 19th minute lead, the Irishman making his first start since re-joining the club in January.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ryan Ledson jumps on Greg Cunningham to celebrate Preston North End's opening goal against Blackburn at Ewood Park

Centre-half Lindsay doubled the lead, heading home at the near post after meeting Ryan Ledson's corner three minutes before the interval.

Adam Armstrong quickly halved the deficit from the penalty spot, Andrew Hughes having been harshly judged to have fouled Sam Gallagher.

That was the scoring done, North End having some defending to do in the second half but rarely looking like being breached.

Emil Riis and Brad Potts missed late chances to make the final stages more comfortable, while Ched Evans had the ball in the net but saw the effort disallowed.

Greg Cunningham pulls the trigger for PNE's first goal

North End's starting XI had shown four changes to the side beat by Rotherham last Saturday.

Cunningham, Alan Browne, Daniel Johnson and Jordan Storey came into the side, with Joe Rafferty, Paul Huntington, Jayson Molumby and Anthony Gordon dropping out.

It was an injury which took Gordon out of the squad, with Rafferty, Huntington and Molumby on the bench.

The Lilywhites switched formation too, lining-up in a 3-5-2 system rather than their standard 4-2-3-1.

Liam Lindsay climbs to head home North End's second goal against Blackburn

It saw a back three of Storey, Lindsay and Hughes, with Browne and Cunningham operating as wing-backs.

Ledson and Ben Whiteman were the two deeper-sitting midfielders, with Daniel Johnson further forward behind front pair Evans and Tom Barkhuizen.

The opening spell saw the sides size one another up before North End took the lead with a piece of real quality on a difficult playing surface.

Browne's cross field ball from right to left picked out the run of Cunningham down the channel.

Liam Lindsay celebrates scoring for North End at Blackburn

He took a fine first touch and then struck a crisp left-foot finish on the half-volley from the edge of the box across the keeper into the far corner.

With their tails up, North End bossed the play for a good spell after that.

Evans and Barkhuizen pressed well as Rovers tried to play out from the play.

There was a chance for the hosts at the other end, Armstrong breaking down the left hand side of the box before dragging a low shot across goal and wide of the far post.

North End netted their second goal in the 43rd which sparked a frantic finale to the first half.

Ledson delivered a corner right-footed from the left, the ball hanging in the air at the air at the near post where Lindsay held off the attentions of Jarrod Branthwaite to head home from five yards.

Rovers cut the deficit within a couple of minutes with a penalty which was on the soft side to say the least, contact between Hughes and Gallagher minimal.

Referee David Webb hesitated before pointing to the spot, perhaps on the advice on his assistant.

Armstrong tucked the penalty away past Daniel Iversen who went the right way and wasn't far away from getting it.

It then needed a fine save from Iversen in the third minute of first-half stoppage time to prevent a Blackburn equaliser.

Barry Douglas sent over a low cross which Armstrong flicked goalwards at the near post, Iversen plunging on the line to push it behind.

Less than two minutes into the second half good work from Barkhuizen took him into the box, a challenge stopping his progress.

The ball broke to Johnson, his curling left-foot shot clipping off a Blackburn foot and going inches wide.

Former PNE academy player Tyrhys Dolan, part of a half-time double change for the hosts, put the ball wide in the 56th minute after North End had only partly cleared a corner.

Within sixty seconds at the other end, Cunningham was first to a loose ball ahead of Darragh Lenihan to knock the ball forward to Barkhuizen who shrugged off a challenge before dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box.

North End made a double change in the 75th minute, Johnson and Barkhuizen giving way to Potts and Riis.

Within a couple of minutes they combined well, Potts' pass finding the run of Riis who moved towards the box, cut across Branthwaite but put his shot too close to keeper Thomas Kaminski who saved.

In the closing stages, Potts saw a shot deflected wide but he had Evans and Riis as options either side of him and should have played one of them in.

Evans had the ball in the net in the 89th minute, getting the last touch to a Potts shot, but the flag went up for offside against the striker.

Five minutes stoppage-time was signalled, North End comfortably seeing that out to claim a big three points.

Blackburn: Kaminski, Nyambe (Elliott 63), Lenihan, Branthwaite, Douglas, Travis (Brereton 87), Davenport (Downing 46), Gallagher (Harwood-Bellis 74), Dack, Rothwell (Dolan 46), Armstrong. Subs (not used): Pears, Bell, Evans, Buckley.

PNE: Iversen, Browne, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, Cunningham, Whiteman, Ledson, Johnson (Potts 75), Barkhuizen (Riis 75), Evans (Molumby 90). Subs (not used): Ripley, van den Berg, Rafferty, Huntington, Gallagher, Sinclair.

Referee: David Webb (Lancashire)

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here