Preston 3 v 3 Rotherham - Report
Rotherham United produced yet another grandstand finish to snatch a point late on in a thrilling 3-3 draw against promotion rivals Preston North End.
It looked as though the Millers had squandered an early two goal lead thanks to Lee Frecklington and an own goal by Tom Clarke when goals from Craig Davies, Paul Gallagher and Joe Garner looked to have sealed the points for the Lilywhites. With just two minutes to go Frecklington had other ideas when he seized upon a loose ball in the area to scramble the Millers level and earn a valuable point.
Manager Steve Evans named an unchanged side to the one that beat Carlisle United 2-1 at Brunton Park on Saturday. Striker Alex Revell recovered from an eye injury to take his place alongside Wes Thomas in attack, whilst club captain and former Preston defender Craig Morgan replaced Richard Brindley on the substitutes bench.
The Millers couldn't have got off to a better start when with the first meaningful effort of the game they took the lead. James Tavernier down the Millers right played a ball into the feet of the onrushing Frecklington, who showed sublime footwork to take the ball on the run before slamming a shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
The away supporters had barely taken their seats when the Millers doubled their advantage after just nine minutes. Pringle swung in a dangerous free-kick from the right which caused chaos in the six yard area before flicking the head of the unfortunate Clarke, nestling in the top corner of Declan Rudd's net.
The home team finally showed some signs of life on 16 minutes when former Barnsley striker Davies crossed from the by-line but his dangerous centre whistled across the six yard area with no white shirt in sight.
The game started to settle down with first Adam Collin showing safe hands to claim a dangerous Preston centre, whilst at the other end Kieran Agard almost latched onto a weak header by Wright back to his 'keeper, with Rudd just pipping the Millers front man to the ball.
On 26 minutes Revell flicked on a long clearance into the direction of strike partner Thomas, the former Bournemouth hot-shot brought the ball down before being nudged off the ball by Tom Clarke in the penalty area, but despite loud appeals from the away supporters, and Thomas himself, the claims were waved away by the officials.
After a warning for Thomas for a late challenge, Preston fired a long ball into the channel which Collin started to come for however Davies beat him to the ball but his harmless chip into the six yard area was miss-directed, and easily dealt with by the Millers' defence.
As the game moved towards half-time the Millers continued to look dangerous on the break, whilst the home side started to dominate the possession statistics.
On 38 minutes Preston found a way back into the game with the dangerous Davies the player to breach the previously untested Millers back five. Good work down the right by Gallagher ended with a pass to Davies who burst beyond the Millers last line of defence before poking a low shot past an onrushing Collin, leaving the former Carlisle stopper with no chance.
Preston now seemed to be in the ascendancy as the game ebbed towards half-time, Collin doing well again to race off his line to grasp Keith Keane's dangerous looking slide-rule pass in behind the Millers' defence.
Preston 1 v 2 Rotherham
The Millers started the second half looking to regain their stranglehold on proceedings but it was the home side who picked up where they left off. immediately pinning the Millers back. After Pringle gave the ball away inside his own half, Keane strided forward with purpose but dragged a low daisy cutter wide of Collin's far post.
Evans reacted with an early substitution, striker Thomas making way on 50 minutes with Nicky Adams taking his place.
Preston continued to dominate possession and following a Gallagher corner Clarke headed well over under pressure. The home side didn't have to wait much longer for their next chance when they deservedly levelled through the lively Gallagher. After a run by Keane the ball found its way to the former Stoke winger and following a smart turn on the edge of the area he stroked the ball into the corner to erase the two goal deficit.
Rotherham responded well to the setback and sub Adams could have put the Millers back in front immediately, but after the ball fell kindly to him inside the area his goalbound strike was blocked by a ruck of white shirts.
A surge of noise from the home end now had the home side purring, and they capitalised on their dominance with a third goal. The Millers failed to fully clear a free-kick with the ball coming out to Chris Humphrey on the right side, his cross into the area found the in-form Garner who rose above the sea of bodies to power a header beyond Collin and turn the game on its head.
Evans responded to the double blow by introducing Michael O'Connor in place of Smallwood in the heart of midfield.
It didn't stop the Preston juggernaut though with Davies the next to try his luck from the angle, this time Collin held on well at the near post.
The frustration at losing a two goal advantage was clear to see when a poor challenge on Gallagher by Adams saw the sub enter the book.
With just under 20 minutes remaining Pringle made a foray down the left before firing a low cross into a crowded penalty area, but the luck was with Preston as Agard couldn't get his shot away, with O'Connor's follow up effort also blocked.
At the other end Garner was poised to shoot in a dangerous area but the energetic Frecklington sprinted back to foil the striker with a crucial tackle to keep the Millers in the contest.
The Millers now started to push bodies forward in search of an equaliser, Frecklington smashing a shot from 20 yards which was again blocked after good work by Revell and Adams to tee up the midfield playmaker.
Evans played his final hand with six minutes remaining, removing full-back Joe Skarz and replacing him with Haris Vuckic.
It looked like the home team were going to take the spoils but yet again the Millers never say die attitude shot to the fore. With two minutes remaining Collin launched a ball into the area which caused an almighty scramble in the penalty area, after a shot was blocked on the line the ball fell for Frecklington who pounced with a low shot to send the travelling supporters into raptures.
Preston 3 v 3 Rotherham
Preston: Rudd; Wiseman (King 81), Clarke, Wright, Laird, Humphrey, Kilkenny, Keane, Gallagher (Brownhill 75), Davies, Garner.
Subs not used: Stuckmann, Davies, Beavon, Holmes, Buchanan.
Rotherham: Collin; Tavernier, Davis, Arnason, Skarz, Agard, Smallwood, Frecklington, Pringle, Revell, Thomas.
Subs not used: Shearer. O'Connor, Morgan, Addison, Vuckic, Hitchcock, Adams.
Attendance: 9,524 (925)