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Deepdale (ATT 17,221) 10th May 2014 - Kick off 17:15

Preston Preston North End vs Rotherham United Rotherham

Preston 1

J Garner (49)

ft

Rotherham 1

A Revell (21)

Sky Sports 1 HD

League One: Preston draw 1-1 with Rotherham in play-off semi-final first leg

Last Updated: 11/05/14 3:15pm

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Highlights: Preston 1 Rotherham 1

Joe Garner's breathtaking second-half volley earned Preston a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final against Rotherham at Deepdale.

The visitors went ahead in a lacklustre first half when Alex Revell ran half the length of the pitch before firing home the opener to round off a devastating counter-attacking move.

North End, aiming to end a play-off hoodoo which has seen them never go up via that method on eight occasions, had been poor but boyhood Preston supporter Garner ensured they will head to South Yorkshire next Thursday on level terms.

Just after the break he chested a pass into him, flicked the ball over Rotherham defender Kari Arnason and smashed a dipping effort into the net from 25 yards out.

Steve Evans' men had the better chances after that, Lee Frecklington squandering a one-on-one with the best of the bunch, as the two sides drew for the third time this season.

When the Millers last visited Deepdale back in February they were two goals ahead inside 11 minutes but, with a greater prize at stake, the opening exchanges were understandably more tense.

Garner appealed in vain for a penalty early on when Craig Morgan knocked him to the ground, from where North End's top scorer somehow managed to scurry forward and win a corner.

Garner had scored in February's 3-3 draw and was again the Lilywhites' main threat with Paul Gallagher's cross almost falling right into the striker's stride.

It was Rotherham who would strike first, though, with a clever counter-attacking move in the 21st minute.

Ben Pringle clipped the ball down the left flank for Revell, who nodded past the fully-committed Jack King, and burst clear. He shaped to shoot towards the far corner but instead rifled the ball past Declan Rudd's right leg and inside the near post.

The response never materalised for North End and a fanbase which has seen every play-off campaign end in heartbreak greeted the half-time whistle with frustrated boos.

A normally raucous group needed some inspiration to lift them and they certainly got it with Garner's incredible strike four minutes into the second period.

The 26-year-old took a Tom Clarke pass on his chest, touched the ball over Arnason and dispatched a sumptuous volley over Millers goalkeeper Adam Collin in stunning fashion.

It had a galvanising effect on the home crowd, however Revell and Frecklington missed two good chances to restore Rotherham's lead prior to the hour mark.

The Millers' goalscorer beat Bailey Wright to head over the top from inside the area before Wes Thomas sent Frecklington racing clear. His touch was heavy, though, allowing Rudd to rush out and block the shot at the attacking midfielder's feet.

Both managers turned to their substitutes' bench and it was the visitors who continued to look more dangerous, Rob Milsom's try from outside the box flying just wide.

Lee Holmes failed to capitalise when Collin got caught under a cross from the left and Garner tried, and failed, to replicate his earlier goal as time wound down.

In stoppage-time Rudd was forced into an acrobatic save from Millers substitute Haris Vuckic's header as the game ended in another stalemate.

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Matches

Table

Sky Bet League 1

Sky Bet League 1
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bristol City 46 99
2 Milton Keynes Dons 46 91
3 Preston North End 46 89
4 Swindon Town 46 79
5 Sheffield United 46 71
6 Chesterfield 46 69
7 Bradford City 46 65
8 Rochdale 46 63
9 Peterborough United 46 63
10 Fleetwood Town 46 63
11 Barnsley 46 62
12 Gillingham 46 62
13 Doncaster Rovers 46 61
14 Walsall 46 59
15 Oldham Athletic 46 57
16 Scunthorpe United 46 56
17 Coventry City 46 55
18 Port Vale 46 54
19 Colchester United 46 52
20 Crewe Alexandra 46 52
21 Notts County 46 50
22 Crawley Town 46 50
23 Leyton Orient 46 49
24 Yeovil Town 46 40

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