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Match report: Preston North End 2 Stoke City 2

PNE players celebrate after Paul Gallagher gives them the lead against Stoke
PNE players celebrate after Paul Gallagher gives them the lead against Stoke

Preston North End and Stoke City shared the spoils in a pulsating clash at Deepdale.

Twice the Lilywhites took the lead through Paul Gallagher and Grahaam Burke but equalisers from Erik Pieters and substitute Peter Crouch pegged them back.

Paul Gallagher scores from the penalty spot

Paul Gallagher scores from the penalty spot

The first half in particular was fantastic entertainment, both sides going toe-to-toe.

Gallagher gave North End the lead from the penalty spot in the 40th minute after Potters right-back Tom Edwards had handled in the box.

Stoke will argue that Gallagher should not have been on the pitch having earlier caught Joe Allen with an elbow, something which was missed by referee Andrew Madley.

Pieters levelled with a fine shot within two minutes, only for PNE to regain the lead in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage-time through Burke's volley.

Graham Burke after scoring PNE's second goal

Graham Burke after scoring PNE's second goal

That lead stayed intact until the 61st minute when Crouch met an Allen corner with the back of his net to send the ball flying into the net.

After twice being in front, North End will be slightly disappointed not to have taken all three points.

However, bearing in mind Stoke's summer outlay and the strength of their squad, a draw shouldn't be sniffed at.

PNE had the game's best player in Ben Pearson, the midfielder busy throughout and comfortable on the ball.

Peter Crouch scores Stoke's second equaliser

Peter Crouch scores Stoke's second equaliser

The North End side had shown two changes to the one which featured in their last Championship outing at Swansea, Gallagher and Burke in for Josh Harrop and Tom Barkhuizen.

An action-packed first half was played at a blistering pace, Lukas Nmecha having the game's first chance with a header from Callum Robinson's cross, Jack Butland diving to hold it.

Declan Rudd made a fine save in the seventh minute, blocking Saido Berahino's near post header at point-blank range - James McClean's cross from the left-wing having picked out the striker.

Robinson met Burke's cross with a header at the far post, it travelling back across goal and dropping just wide of the target.

Butland was forced into a double save by Alan Browne in the 24th minute.

Browne met a Robinson cross from the left hand side of the box with a header which Butland pushed out, the midfielder's follow-up on the volley blocked by the England international.

Three goals were squashed into a 10-minute period at the end of the first half and in stoppage-time.

North End took the lead in the 40th minute when Darnell Fisher's cross was handled by Edwards in the box.

Mr Madley pointed to the spot, Gallagher going through his usual routine of turning his back on the ball, walking to the edge of the box before spinning round and starting his run-up.

It is fair to say he hammered it, the ball hitting the roof of the net with some force.

The lead lasted barely two minutes as a cross from the Stoke right travelled across the box into the path of Pieters who drove a fine shot into the net, Rudd getting a glove to it but unable to stop it going in.

But PNE regained the advantage in the fifth minute of stoppage-time - it the last kick of the action before the interval.

Gallagher whipped over a free-kick from the right channel which Browne headed on.

It fell to Robinson who sliced his shot, it fortunately falling to Burke on the edge of the six-yard box who volleyed into the net.

In the early minutes of the second half, Burke sent a shot straight at the keeper while Browne headed wide from a Gallagher corner.

With 56 minutes gone, Andrew Hughes' headed clearance out of the box fell to Tom Ince who sent a volley over the bar.

Stoke drew level just past the hour mark, Fisher giving away a free-kick with a foul on Ince.

Allen delivered it right-footed into the box, the ball hitting Crouch on the back of the head as he rose in a crowd of players and flew into the net.

North End boss Alex Neil responded by making a double substitution, Barkhuizen and Louis Moult replacing Burke and Nmecha.

In the 73rd minute, Gallagher drilled a first-time shot from 20 yards just wide of the target after Browne had done well down the right-wing and fed a pass into Barkhuizen inside - he in turn laid if off to Gallagher.

Ryan Ledson came on for Gallagher seven minutes from time as Neil made his final substitute.

In the 87th minute Robinson's corner went deep to the far post, Tom Clarke heading it back across goal where Hughes headed over the bar.

North End were on the front foot in the closing minutes but could not carve-out a third goal.

PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Clarke, Davies, Hughes, Pearson, Gallagher (Ledson 83), Burke (Barkhuizen 66), Browne, Robinson, Nmecha (Moult 66). Subs (not used): Harrop, Barker, Huntington, Maxwell.

Stoke: Butland, Edwards, Williams, Shawcross, Pieters, Ince, Allen, Fletcher, McClean (Diouf 58), Berahino (Crouch 58), Afobe (Etebo 83). Subs (not used): Bauer, Bojan, Souttar, Federici.

Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 13,996 (3,076 away)