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PNE 1 Rovers 1

23 July 2013

It was a bitter-sweet evening for DJ Campbell, who scored and then went off injured, as Rovers preserved their unbeaten pre-season record with a 1-1 draw away to Preston North End.

Former Rovers striker Kevin Davies had headed the home side into an early lead on his Deepdale debut, before Campbell equalised on 36 minutes with his second goal in as many games. 

Todd Kane's shot was parried and Campbell was first to react to fire home the rebound.

But moments before the break, the summer signing limped out of the action. It was a worrying sight for the Rovers faithful, as the 31-year-old had only recently returned to full fitness after undergoing an operation on a broken metatarsal towards the end of last season. 

Both sides had chances to win it after the break, with Jordan Rhodes hitting the post and Alan Judge trying his luck from long range on several occasions.

Before the game, Rovers manager Gary Bowyer made three changes to the side that started against Rochdale at the weekend.

Campbell was rewarded for his goal with a starting spot alongside Rhodes in attack.

Josh King, who was one of three former Preston players in the Rovers line-up, came in for Chris Taylor, whilst Matt Kilgallon was given the nod ahead of Josh Morris at left-back.

Only a 15-man squad made the short journey to Deepdale, as a Rovers XI beat Bury 4-2 in a behind-closed-doors game at Brockhall in the morning - Yann Songo'o (2), Leon Best and another trialist getting the goals.

There were two former Rovers in the Preston squad - Davies and Joel Byrom - and it was the elder statesman who opened the scoring inside five minutes. A free-kick into the Rovers box was scrambled behind for a corner and from Lee Holmes' left-footed inswinger, Davies got in front of his marker to head home at the near post.

Rovers ought to have levelled just three minutes later. Following a mix-up between two Preston players in defence, Campbell scampered clear down the left and crossed for Rhodes, whose downward header was superbly saved by the legs of Declan Rudd at point blank range. King then sliced horribly wide on the rebound with the goal at his mercy.

The visitors came close again from similar circumstances moments later. Scott Dann picked out Marrow with a raking crossfield ball. His early cross, looking for Rhodes, got the faintest of flick-ons to Campbell, whose snap shot forced another fine save from Rudd.

Rovers threatened again on 14 minutes when Kane tried his luck from long range and it was from another Kane effort that led to the equaliser on 36 minutes. The young right-back burst forward down the flank, before cutting inside and unleashing a curling drive that Rudd could only parry and Campbell was on hand to steer a left-foot shot into the far corner.

The half ended on a sour note for the striker however, as just before the break, Campbell went to ground following an innocuous challenge by Tom Clarke and had to be replaced by Taylor. 

Rovers picked up where they left off after the interval, almost adding a second on 51 minutes. King wriggled his way free inside the box, before cutting the ball back to Rhodes, whose shot was deflected onto the outside of the post.

The lively Judge soon started to cause Preston problems with his deliveries. A cross from the right was headed over by Taylor and then an inswinging free-kick from the left found Grant Hanley, who got up well, but couldn't direct his header on target.

It was Preston's turn to threaten from a set-play on 67 minutes. Rovers failed to clear their lines from a free-kick and the ball broke to Clarke, whose goal-bound shot had to be headed clear off his own line by Hanley.

Both sides rang the changes in the final 20 minutes, with John O'Sullivan and Tim Payne replacing Marrow and King, whilst for the hosts, Byrom came on to face his former club.

As the contest ticked towards its conclusion, Judge had a trio of efforts from distance - one which forced a smart save from Rudd low to his left - as Rovers pushed for a winner.

In the last minute, Judge fired a free-kick over at one end, before straight from the goal-kick, the ball broke to Ryan Croasdale, whose dipping volley cleared the bar at the other.

It's Everton at Ewood Park on Saturday for Bowyer's men next.

PNE: Rudd, Keane (Huntington 71), Clarke, Wright, Buchanan (Laird 86), Humphrey (Byrom 78), Welsh (King 46), Mousinho (Croasdale 86), Holmes, Wroe, Davies (Hayhurst 72).
Subs: Stuckmann, Cummins, Monakana, Cansdell-Sherriff, Beardsley.

ROVERS: Kean, Kane, Hanley, Dann, Kilgallon, Judge, Lowe, Marrow (O'Sullivan 73), King (Payne 83), Campbell (Taylor 45), Rhodes.
Subs: Urwin. 

Attendance: 5,773.

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