Blackburn Rovers 1 Preston North End 1 - Match report as honours end even in derby clash at Ewood Park

Preston winger Tom Barkhuizen challenges Blackburn left-back Amari'i Bell
Preston winger Tom Barkhuizen challenges Blackburn left-back Amari'i Bell

Josh Harrop's superb finish earned Preston North End a draw in their Lancashire derby clash with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

Harrop volleyed home from the edge of the box in the 17th minute after a free-kick had been headed down into his path.

Preston manager Alex Neil gives instructions during a break in play against Blackburn

Preston manager Alex Neil gives instructions during a break in play against Blackburn

It was the midfielder's seventh goal of the season and brought North End level after they fallen behind early doors.

Less than three minutes had been played when Adam Armstrong netted from close range after some poor defending had allowed Rovers to counter-attack.

Scott Sinclair had to wait until the 80th minute for his PNE debut after being signed from Celtic on Wednesday, the winger replacing goalscorer Harrop.

The game got scrappy as it went on, Rovers having a couple of late chances, one which hit the post and another which forced a fine save out of Declan Rudd.

Preston's Joe Rafferty holds off Blackburn striker Sam Gallagher

Preston's Joe Rafferty holds off Blackburn striker Sam Gallagher

Alex Neil had made eight changes to the side beaten by Norwich in the FA Cup, Ben Davies, Joe Rafferty and Harrop the three to stay in the starting XI.

Sean Maguire led the attack in a 4-2-3-1 system, Tom Barkhuizen playing to the right of him and Harrop on the left, Alan Browne in the Np.10 role.

North End had the game's first chance Maguire's run finishing with him shooting low from outside the box which forced a diving save - albeit a comfortable one - from keeper Christian Walton.

But they fell behind in the third minute, the build-up to the goal starting when Tom Clarke tried to find Tom Barkhuizen with a pass, Stewart Downing intercepting it and feeding Armstrong who raced away down the left channel.

Armstrong cut inside into the box and when he lost control of the ball, there was an opportunity to clear. But hesitancy from Clarke allowed Armstrong to get back on the ball and shoot low into the net.

There was a long delay when Clarke's challenge caught Corry Evans on the head, leaving the Rovers midfielder on the turf.

He was tended to by medics on the pitch before being stretchered off.

When play resumed, Armstrong went close to a second goal when he met a Downing free-kick and hooked a volley just wide of target.

Out of nothing, North End equalised in some style in the 17th minute.

A foul on Maguire saw them awarded a free-kick down the left channel, one which Gallagher delivered into the box.

Davies rose to head it down into the path of Harrop who let the ball bounce once before leathering a first-time right-foot shot into the roof of the net from 18 yards.

On the half hour, Rudd kept parity intact by diving to his right to push a shot from Lewis Holtby past the post.

Referee James Linington added on seven minutes of stoppage-time for Evans' injury and Blackburn had two chances in that additional spell.

A short corner routine worked the ball to Holtby who sent a shot from the edge of the box dipping over the bar.

Then a quickly-taken free-kick played in Armstrong down the left hand side of the box and he drilled a low effort across goal and wide of the far post.

Early in the second Maguire tried his luck with a shot from a narrow angle after cutting in from the left, it going over the bar.

The second half became increasingly scrappy and niggly, with Darragh Lenihan and Lewis Travis both booked for the home side.

Jayden Stockley came on for Barkhuizen just after the hour, Maguire switching to the right-wing.

It was a foul on Stockley which saw North End awarded a free-kick in the 71st minute, one very much in Gallagher territory.

But Gallagher put the set-piece a couple of yards too high.

Sinclair was finally summoned from the bench in the 80th minute to replace Harrop, the North End fans having chanted his name and sung his song all the way through.

Twice they had chanted 'Neil, Neil bring him on' in the minutes before the change was made.

There was a scare in the 86th minute when Armstrong curled in a cross from the left which carried across the box and clipped the far post before bouncing into Rudd's arms.

North End went close themselves sixty seconds later, Gallagher's shot taken out for a corner by a sliding block from a Blackburn defender.

Rudd made a fine save in the fourth minute of stoppage-time to push away Tosin Adarabioyo's hooked shot at the far post.

It led to a couple of late corners for the home side but PNE held out to take a share of the spoils.

Blackburn: Walton, Nyambe (Bennett 51), Adarabioyo, Lenihan, Bell, Travis, Evans (Johnson 12) , Downing, Holtby (Graham 69), Armstrong, Gallagher. Subs (not used): Williams, Rothwell, Chapman, Leutwiler.

PNE: Rudd, Clarke, Bauer, Davies, Rafferty, Pearson, Gallagher (Potts 88), Barkhuizen (Stockley 62), Browne, Harrop (Sinclair 80), Maguire. Subs (not used): Fisher, Huntington, Nugent, Potts, Ripley.

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Attendance: 19,963 (6,276 PNE)