Preston North End 3 Blackburn Rovers 2 - Lancashire derby honours go PNE's way after stunning second-half comeback

Preston North End gave Blackburn Rovers a two-goal head start at Deepdale but fought back to pull off a superb derby victory.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 26th October 2019, 6:12 pm
Tom Barkhuizen after scoring Preston's winner against Blackburn at Deepdale
Tom Barkhuizen after scoring Preston's winner against Blackburn at Deepdale

The difference between PNE's performance in the first and second halves were like chalk and cheese.

They conceded inside 30 seconds, Sam Gallagher's header hitting the post and bouncing off Declan Rudd's into the net.

Gallagher doubled the lead in the 11th minute and North End looked so out of sorts throughout the first half.

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Tom Barkhuizen scores Preston's first goal against Blackburn

But Jayden Stockley's arrival from the bench after 29 minutes was ultimately to prove important, with the big striker causing Rovers all sorts of issues in the second half.

Tom Barkhuizen halved the deficit eight minutes after the interval after Sean Maguire had headed a Darnell Fisher cross down into his path.

Daniel Johnson equalised from the penalty spot in the 65th minute before Barkhuizen hit a superb winner eight minutes from time.

The North End side had shown three changes from the midweek 1-1 draw with Leeds.

Tom Barkhuizen celebrates his first goal against Blackburn

Andrew Hughes replaced the injured Ben Davies in the centre of defence, with Maguire and Paul Gallagher restored to the starting XI instead of David Nugent and Brad Potts.

The 4-2-3-1 system had Alan Browne playing on the right, Maguire on the left, with Johnson behind front man Barkhuizen.

There were just 31 seconds on the clock when PNE fell behind and basically that set the tone for the rest of the first half.

Amari'i Bell was given space to get down the Rovers left and send over a cross which dropped across the box and out to the right hand side.

Daniel Johnson scores Preston's equaliser from the penalty spot

Adam Armstrong returned it into the middle, Gallagher rising to send a header goalwards, Rudd touching it on to the post but seeing the ball bounce off his back and into the net.

In the 10th minute, Maguire won a free-kick just outside the left corner of the box.

Gallagher touched the ball to Johnson who stopped it, Gallagher then getting a shot away which keeper Christian Walton gloved over the bar.

Soon after that, Patrick Bauer pulled away at the far post to meet a cross from Johnson but saw his header go straight at Walton.

Blackburn scored their second goal in the 11th minute, the visitors counter-attacking through midfield.

A pass from Bradley Dack clipped off Ben Pearson and broke to Gallagher down the right-hand side of the box.

Gallagher looked up up and curled a left-foot shot across Rudd and into the far corner.

Alex Neil made a substitution as early as the 29th minute, bringing on Stockley to replace Gallagher.

He had already re-jigged the front four before then, Stockley's arrival meaning another switch around.

Just past the half hour mark, Browne's low cross into the box found Barkhuizen, he touched it past a defender before lifting a shot over the keeper - only for Tosin Adarabioyo to get back and head clear out of the six-yard box.

At the other end, Corey Evans drove a shot from outside the box just wide after Stockley had headed a corner clear.

Neil chose to keep his powder dry at the interval in terms of another substitution.

Two minutes into the second half, Derrick Williams wasn't too far wide with a header following a Rovers corner.

North End, looking more organised than they had done throughout the first half, went close in the 51st minute.

Stockley flicked on a cross from the right, the ball falling to Browne who struck a left-foot volley which Walton dived to his right to push past the post.

The deficit was halved in the 53rd minute as a spell of PNE pressure finally told.

They had countered on their visitors and when an attack broke down, they recycled the ball down the inside right channel.

Fisher hung a speculative cross up to the far post, Maguire got up to head it back down and Barkhuizen was on hand to nod home from close range.

On the hour, Stockley and Barkhuizen combined well, Stockley hitting a low shot which Walton got down to hold.

North End equalised in the 65th minute from the penalty spot after Browne broke beyond the Rovers defence and was pulled down by Elliott Bennett.

There seemed an age between referee Stephen Martin giving the penalty and Johnson taking it, the midfielder in no rush with his routine.

Eventually he stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way with a low finish into the bottom left hand corner.

They weren't finished there, completing a superb comeback with eight minutes remaining,

Stockley chested down a goalkick from Rudd, laying it off to Browne who took the ball on before playing it out to Barkhuizen who was moving into the box from the left.

Barkhuizen ran on to it and on the angle curled a superb first-time right-foot finish back across the keeper into the far top corner.

North End saw the game out well, Fisher seeing a 35-yard free-kick tipped over by Walton late on.

PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Bauer, Hughes, Rafferty, Pearson, Gallagher (Stockley 29), Johnson, Browne, Maguire (Potts 90), Barkhuizen. Subs (not used): Storey, Ledson, Nugent, Bodin, Hudson.

Blackburn: Walton, Nyambe, Adarabioyo, Williams, Bell, Bennett, Evans, Rothwell (Graham 84), Dack, Armstrong, Gallagher. Subs (not used): Johnson, Downing, Travis, Rankin-Costello, Buckley, Leutwiler.

Referee: Steve Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 19,165 (4,592 away)