PNE fan Tim Mercer believes Preston should be content with their derby point
It was more a scrap than a hotpot, this Lancashire derby ended all square with both goals scored within the first 20 minutes.
North End continued their recent and worrying trend of needlessly conceding early on. However, on this occasion, rallying enough to get something from the game.
In that sense is was probably us, the more than 6,000 away fans, who left the ground feeling more satisfied, as Blackburn spurned at least a couple more decent opportunities to get one over their old rivals from just 13 miles away down Preston New Road.
More importantly for Preston, it stopped the rot of two defeats on the trot in the league, made worse by those being home matches over the festive period.
Prior to kick-off, all away-fan talk centred on whether new signing Scott Sinclair would start.
As notifications ‘pinged’ on numerous phones at the 2 pm mark the answer was ‘a place on the bench’ and a wee bit of disappointment … with most fans then concerned at the inclusion of Tom Clarke at right back.
The club captain is a terrace hero and model professional, but nobody can halt the aging process and reduction in pace that comes with it. And it was two, albeit not pace-related, mistakes by Clarke that led to the Rovers’ goal on three minutes.
First a stray pass that allowed a break on goal was followed by failure to clear the ball from a recovery challenge in the box. However, the skipper showed graft and guile throughout the rest of the match and was crucial in preventing Danny Graham scoring late on in the second half.
Thank goodness we gained parity by the 17th minute, with a belter of a strike from the edge of the box by Josh Harrop after the ball had been headed back to him by Ben Davies from a Paul Gallagher free-kick.
Having quickly learnt and sung the ‘Sinclair’ song all afternoon, we could be forgiven for thinking Alex Neil gave in to our request for Scott’s debut appearance from the bench in the latter stages.
In reality Neil was boxing clever, with the player having very little game time under his belt this season and hence in need of a more gradual approach to increasing match fitness.