Browne on target as 10-man Preston battle back to share the points with Sheffield United

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IN AN IRISH-HEAVY affair, 10-man Preston pulled off a sensational second-half comeback as they came from behind to draw 2-2 with Sheffield United at Deepdale.

With eight players with ties to these shores involved across both sides, Alan Browne was the man who kickstarted the hosts’ revival.

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Preston looked down and out after Jayden Bogle and Billy Sharp scored for the Blades before half-time, while Andrew Hughes was dismissed.

But Ryan Lowe’s side were far from dead and buried and they staged a dramatic turnaround late on, grabbing a point thanks to goals from Browne and Emil Riis.

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Both goalkeepers were called into action in the early exchanges, with Wes Foderingham denying Preston’s Scott Sinclair at one end and then Daniel Iversen tipping away Iliman Ndiaye’s low effort at the other.

The Blades were not to be deterred though and they scored with their next meaningful attack when John Egan’s bullet header was well saved, only for the ball to fall straight to Bogle.

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The 21-year old was on the edge of the area, but he had only one thing on his mind and smashed a low drive through a forest of legs and into the back of the net.

That was United’s first goal for nearly five hours of football and they would add a second before the break after Rhian Brewster raced through on goal before being hauled down by Hughes.

The defender was shown a straight red card for his troubles and to rub salt into the wounds, Sharp stepped up to resoundingly lash home the resulting spot-kick and double the lead.

Both teams continued on the front foot after the break, with Ndiaye and Browne seeing good efforts well saved at either end.

Brewster was then guilty of not putting the game to bed as he wasted a pair of golden opportunities, twice failing to test the keeper from close range when in plenty of space.

That left the door open for a Preston fightback, and even with 10 men they held plenty of menace going forward.

Daniel Johnson and Riis both drew saves out of Foderingham before they halved the deficit with 19 minutes remaining as Browne calmly converted from 10 yards after being well picked out by Johnson.

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That gave North End the momentum and as the visitors retreated towards their 18-yard box, Preston looked the most likely to score next.

Lowe called upon ex-Blade Ched Evans in the search for an equaliser and the striker duly delivered an assist by teeing up Riis to dramatically prod home from close range to make it 2-2 in the dying minutes.

The result leaves both teams locked in mid-table on 33 points, though Sheffield United move into the top half on goal difference.

Captain Browne started for Preston, with Greg Cunningham and Joe Rafferty introduced from the bench. Seanie Maguire was an unused substitute. Egan, Conor Hourihane and Enda Stevens were in from the start for the Blades, with David McGoldrick coming on in the second half.

Browne on target as 10-man Preston battle back to share the points with Sheffield United
© PA Fulham celebrate after scoring their sixth goal.

Elsewhere in the Championship, free-scoring Fulham moved five points clear at the top of the table thanks to a relentless 6-2 win at home to struggling Birmingham.

It was a third high-scoring encounter in the space of a week for Marco Silva’s side following a 7-0 romp at Reading and a 6-2 home success at Bristol City’s expense.

Neeskens Kebano, Fabio Carvalho and Tom Cairney added to an own-goal opener, with Birmingham’s Ivan Sunjic pulling one back to make it 4-1 at half-time.

Gary Gardner gave Blues brief hope of an unlikely comeback with a 74th-minute second before Carvalho scored his second and Antonee Robinson helped himself to a sixth.

Scott Hogan was in Birmingham’s matchday squad, though didn’t feature.

Browne on target as 10-man Preston battle back to share the points with Sheffield United
© SIPA USA Will Keane file pic .

In League One, Will Keane was the Irish international who’ll grab the headlines after scoring in the 45th minute of Wigan’s 2-1 win at Morecambe.

James McClean also played the full game for the promotion-chasing Latics, who are currently second, while Anthony O’Connor and Shane McLoughlin lined out for Morecambe. 

Gavin Bazunu kept a clean sheet for Portsmouth away at AFC Wimbledon. Irish-eligible Marcus Harness started for Pompey, as Ronan Curtis and Shaun Williams were sprung from the bench in the second half. 

Elsewhere in the division, Cambridge United were 3-1 winners over Doncaster United, though Wes Hoolohan wasn’t involved. 

– Additional reporting by Emma Duffy

Browne on target as 10-man Preston battle back to share the points with Sheffield United
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