An extremely vital game for both Rovers and North End ended level at the Keepmoat, leaving both teams in no different position in the fight for survival.
Rovers made two changes for the game with Jimmy O’Connor joining the line up after recovering from a broken foot, in place of Mustapha Dumbuya, who picked up a knock in Saturday’s defeat against Cardiff. Joseph Mills left the action on Saturday through injury and was replaced by Matt Kilgallon, who also took his spot in last night’s game. It has also emerged that Mills will miss the rest of the season and may therefore never appear for Rovers again.
Preston made just one change with Adam Barton being replaced by former Rovers’ loanee Chris Brown.
The battle was an extremely open game creating a tense and ‘nerve-racking’ atmosphere within the Keepmoat.
George Friend had Rovers’ first notable chance of the game when he managed to weave into the box from the left before firing a shot that looked to be creeping below the crossbar, although the Preston ‘keeper managed a spectacular save.
Shortly after, O’Connor was denied a penalty decision that could have easily gone either way – but was booked for diving. It looked pretty legitimate to us with a similar view to the referee.
The first half contained too many chances to mention for both teams as the game was so open.
The second half started in the same way as the first with chance after chance being well saved or off target for both sides. This was until the 79th minute.
A clearance from an O’Connor cross fell to Stock on the edge of the area. His well struck shot then span into the top corner of the net creating jubilant scenes in the three Rovers stands.
The celebrations were however short-lived as Preston gained a corner straight from the restart. The corner was taken by Iain Hume and reached the far post causing a goal mouth scramble before the ball was knocked into the roof of the net by North End substitute Paul Hayes. A goal which looked offside, and can be seen on each of the replays I have seen.
At this point, O’Driscoll decides to make a substitute that should have been made two minutes earlier with Wayne Thomas replacing John Oster, giving Rovers five at the back, after conceding?
On 88 minutes, O’Driscoll decided to remove James Hayter to give Rovers’ a less tired striker with only two minutes to go – has he lost the plot? Rovers had further chances when Franck Moussa’s shot bounced back off the crossbar before James Hayter was ruled offside.
33. Gary Woods, 03. George Friend, 04. Shelton Martis, 27. Matt Kilgallon, 02. Jimmy O’Connor, 08. Brian Stock, 14. Franck Moussa, 16. John Oster (Thomas, 82), 18. Simon Gillett, 26. James Coppinger (Shiels, 86), 12. James Hayter (Euell, 88).
Substitutes – 01. Neil Sullivan, 05. Wayne Thomas, 21. Sam Hird, 15. Mark Wilson, 17. Ryan Mason, 22. Dean Shiels, 19. Jason Euell.
21. Iain Turner, 02. Craig Morgan 03. Bongani Khumalo, 19. Billy Jones, 10. Barry Nicholson, 11. Keith Treacy (Ellington, 89), 24. Ian Ashbee, 41. Darren Carter, 09. Chris Brown, 16. Iain Hume (Proctor, 90+4), 27. Eddie Johnson (Hayes, 78).
Substitutes - 01. Andy Lonergan, 42. Bailey Wright, 07. Paul Coutts, 15. Adam Barton, 08. Paul Hayes, 18. Nathan Ellington, 38. Jamie Proctor.
Referee – Scott Mathieson
Attendance - 9,456