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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 18 April 2021
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Irish international marks full debut with superb goal in Preston victory

Greg Cunningham was making his first start since re-joining the club.

Preston North End's Greg Cunningham (file pic).
Preston North End's Greg Cunningham (file pic).
Image: PA

PRESTON MOVED level on points with Blackburn after defeating their hosts 2-1 in the Sky Bet Championship at Ewood Park.

The 100th league meeting between the two sides was ultimately settled in the first half through Ireland international Greg Cunningham’s superb strike – his first since returning to Preston – and Liam Lindsay’s close-range header.

Adam Armstrong’s penalty in first-half added-time left the game in the balance but Rovers could not maintain the momentum and missed the chance to gain ground on the top six.

They enjoyed the majority of play and were denied an equaliser by a magnificent Daniel Iversen save, but it was the Lilywhites who had the clearer chances to extend the lead.

Two goals were enough for Alex Neil’s men, who ended a run of three winless games.

Blackburn remain six points off the top six after losing their first league game at home in 2021.

Rovers made two alterations from the defeat at QPR, including a start for Bradley Dack.

Alan Browne returned from injury for Preston, who gave a first start to Cunningham since he re-signed for the club.

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Those two players combined to put the visitors ahead in the 19th minute as Browne sprayed a wonderful cross-field ball to fellow wing-back Cunningham, whose first touch set him up perfectly and he slammed his shot into the right corner from 20 yards, giving Thomas Kaminski no chance.

The half burst into life in the dying minutes, as Preston deservedly doubled their advantage two minutes before the break when Ryan Ledson’s pinpoint corner was met by Lindsay, who nodded in his first goal for the club.

But that advantage was surrendered almost immediately as a clumsy challenge on Sam Gallagher by Andrew Hughes resulted in a penalty that Armstrong clinically dispatched in added-time for his 19th goal of the season.

They were almost level before the half was out after Barry Douglas swung in a cross that Armstrong directed goalwards but Iversen made a remarkable save, getting down at his near post to claw the ball out when it was almost past him.

Preston should have restored their two-goal advantage in the 57th minute when they capitalised on a defensive mix-up which gave Tom Barkhuizen a clear sight of goal but his effort drifted just beyond the far post.

At the other end, Dack planted a free header onto the roof of the net and Armstrong diverted a Douglas cross over as the game continued to open up.

But Preston passed up another glorious opportunity to seal the points when Emil Riis did well to wriggle free of Jarrad Branthwaite into the area but shot straight at Kaminski with just the keeper to beat.

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