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Preston boss Neil salutes Harrop after ‘stunning’ equaliser rescues draw

Preston manager Alex Neil hailed Josh Harrop’s “stunning” strike which salvaged a 1-1 draw for his side at Blackburn.

In a Lancashire derby short on quality Harrop rescued a point for his side with an unstoppable 20-yard equaliser in the 17th minute, his seventh goal of the season.

It cancelled out Adam Armstrong’s close-range opener after three minutes but, despite the eventful start, neither side threatened to find a winner.

The draw followed back-to-back Championship defeats for Preston and Neil paid tribute to Harrop for helping them avoid a third.

He said: “Last season was difficult for him, but the thing Josh has got is quality. He’s one of those you always want to put in the team, but sometimes when you play the teams that can move the ball really well, defensively we still need to do a bit of work with him.

“That’s something we need to improve on. Even in the first half, their full-back nutmegs him twice and runs down the flank, so there are still little bits we need to work on. But what he does give us is a real threat going the other way.

“In recent weeks, we’ve struggled to score and then he smashes that in and it’s a stunning strike.

“The important thing for us is we needed to get a point on the board, especially after the last two home games. We are a momentum-based team. Those points are big for us because we are a relatively young group and that point will hopefully spur us on.”

Rovers boss Tony Mowbray admitted the game was “attritional” but felt his side edged it.

He said: “I think, on the balance of play, it wouldn’t have been an injustice if we’d got all three points.

“It was a typical derby game from the first whistle to the last. Nobody gave an inch, a lot of one-touch forward passing and looking for errors and mistakes, almost territorial at times.

“We had the better chances, we threatened their goal more, but they scored a wonder goal. And yet it was an attritional game, I would say, as you would expect in a local derby match.

“The positive for me is we went toe-to-toe. I respect Preston’s nature of the way they play. They are very similar to us. They have a camaraderie and collective spirit amongst their team which makes them difficult to play against.

“Teams find it hard to play against us (at home). Ultimately we would have, on the balance of it, deserved to win today. But it wasn’t to be.”