Jones strike denies Boro victory

Billy Jones hit an 88th-minute equaliser to boost Preston's survival prospects with a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

Last Updated: 22/01/11 at 17:12

Jones: Late equaliser for Preston

Jones: Late equaliser for Preston

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Homegrown defender Matthew Bates scored his second goal of the season with a fine strike from 18 yards in the 71st minute but Jones headed home late on to level the scores.

Boro, who won 3-1 at Deepdale on December 28, are showing signs of improvement under Tony Mowbray and this result extended their unbeaten league run to five matches but Phil Brown's men will take heart from their battling display.

Brown, who on Friday apologised for comments he made claiming Middlesbrough's players were unsettled, saw his struggling side make a purposeful start.

Iain Hume crossed dangerously from the flank and Boro defender Seb Hines made a fine clearance to avert the danger.

Boro gradually established a foothold on proceedings and striker Kris Boyd hit a shot from 18 yards which flashed just wide of the left-hand post.

The hosts threatened again moments later when Joe Bennett crossed dangerously and Gary O'Neil hit a left-foot shot which drew a fine block from Preston defender Sean St Ledger.

In the 33rd minute, Preston signalled their attacking intent when winger Paul Parry collected possession 20 yards from goal and hit a fierce shot which Boro goalkeeper Jason Steele tipped over the crossbar.

Moments later Leroy Lita tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area but Leon Cort cleared the danger and the hosts went close again nine minutes before the break.

Bennett again provided the delivery from the wing and Tony McMahon fired goalwards from 18 yards with a fierce shot.

Craig Morgan blocked his effort and Middlesbrough fashioned perhaps their best opening of the half in the 40th minute.

Nicky Bailey hit a right-footed shot from 35 yards which drew a fine parried save from Andy Lonergan.

The ball then fell to Lita 12 yards from goal but Lonergan was again on hand to make a fine stop.

North End then threatened in the 44th minute when Parry saw his 12-yard shot blocked by Hines but genuine goalscoring opportunities were scarce throughout the opening half.

Eleven minutes after the restart, North End broke forward and Jones hit a shot from 18 yards which Steele held comfortably.

Boro sought to up the tempo after the restart but Julio Arca rifled wide from 20 yards and in the 55th minute Preston replaced Paul Hayes with Nathan Ellington in a bid to breath new life into their attack.

However, McMahon fired wide from 18 yards and Andrew Taylor also missed the target from 25 yards.

Boro began to increase the pressure and finally struck with 19 minutes remaining when Bates advanced forward from defence and hit a right-foot shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 18 yards.

Yet Preston refused to lie down and Jones headed home a cross from Conor McLoughlin with two minutes remaining to salvage his side a point.

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4 Norwich 12 10 21
5 N Forest 12 9 21
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18 Millwall 12 -3 13
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