Preston 1 – 1 Birm’ham

Preston missed the opportunity to return to the first half of the tournament as Scott Hogan’s goal snatched a point for Birmingham in a 1-1 draw at Debele.

Neither side created much in terms of clear chances throughout the 90 minutes with Patrick Power’s instinctive first-half finish seemingly setting Preston on his way to three crucial points.

However, a late three-substitution overturned Birmingham and in the final minutes Republic of Ireland international Hogan emerged to seal an exciting point for the away side.

The draw broke North End coach Ryan Lowe’s record in league games since taking charge of the team in December, with Lilliwhites remaining 15th in the table.

The struggling Blues remain 18th with little relegation zone, despite having only one win in their last 10 games in all competitions.

Preston looked brighter on both sides in the early stages, as Andrew Hughes nodded off the post from Ben Whitman’s scrambled corner kick and Emil Reiss-Jacobsen headed a brilliant opportunity straight onto Birmingham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

However, this early offensive pressure finally made it possible for Lowe’s forces as they deserved their lead in the lead half an hour later.

Another Whitman corner kick was only halfway on the edge of the penalty area from the Birmingham defense line, and Alan Brown’s effort from six yards was blocked by central defense Power.

Le Boer’s visitors looked at the reaction after the match resumed with a long-range shot from Jordan James that was valiantly saved by Whitman.

Preston still holds a threat in the final stages, with Etheridge called to action to deny Brad Potts and Tweak Evans in quick succession.

Both chiefs made changes to try to force the issue in the final 15 minutes, with Lowe bringing Sean Maguire, Tom Barkhoizen and Boyer throwing the dice by throwing Ryan Woods, Jubie Bellingham and Hogan in a final move.

Bowyer’s gamble paid off in style after 86 minutes as his new faces evoked the unexpected equalizer.

The 16-year-old Bellingham – younger brother of England international Judd and making his debut in the tournament – overcame Preston’s midfield challenge to create a corner for Woods to deliver a cross inside the penalty area and Hogan ran in behind the defense to nod for the ball. Past Daniel Iverson exposed.

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