Ten-man Derby County put in a resilient performance against Preston North End but were cruelly denied a point when the visitors broke the deadlock with the final kick of the game.
Wayne Rooney’s side, that remained unchanged from their victory over Swansea City ten day prior, battled well against Preston after Martyn Waghorn was shown a straight red card for a late challenge.
Their tremendous work-rate came undone in the seventh minute of added time when Alan Browne struck the back of the net.
The Rams came close within six minutes of the opening whistle when Kamil Jozwiak was awarded a free-kick down the left flank. Graeme Shinnie swung the delivery into the area straight to Waghorn who headed just over the crossbar.
After a fairly even contest in the opening stages, it was the Lilywhites who then came close on the 15 minute-mark. Sean Maguire took aim from the inside of the area but was superbly blocked by Matt Clarke. It only went as far as Paul Gallaher who hurtled his first-time effort was deflected inches over the cross bar from range.
Moments later, the visitors gained a man advantage when Waghorn was shown a straight red for a late challenge on Alan Browne leaving the Rams with ten men for the remaining 70 minutes of the game.
Derby held strong for the remainder of the first-half despite more pressure from Alex Neil’s side. With ten minute left to play, David Marshall was forced to dive full-stretch to parry away a delivery from Josh Earl. He had to be alert just a minute later as well when Gallagher’s delivery from a free-kick was met by Earl and forced a near-post save by the Rams’ stopper.
Soon after the restart, the Rams were hit on a dangerous counter-attack as Scott Sinclair broke down the left and the ball was shifted to the right and played through to Tom Barkhuizen to smash an effort towards the near bottom corner but was denied by a brilliant instinctive save by Marshall.
Another threat came minutes later when Maguire found himself with space at the corner but struck his effort into the side netting. Derby showed some good play while largely having to defend with a man down, but struggled to find the final pass.
With 15 minutes left to play, Clarke headed on target from Nathan Byrne’s delivery from the corner but it was a comfortable save for Declan Rudd. They kept pushing from there and put in a shift for the final ten minutes and looked for the goal.
Everyone did their part with Krystian Bielik maintaining possession in the Preston half, Kamil Jozwiak driving forward, Jason Knight and Colin Kazim-Richards finding space and Lee Buchanan holding strong in the area, but they just couldn’t find the final opening.
In a cruel ending, Preston were finally able to capitalise on the number advantage as they pressured the Derby goal and Browne struck well and into the far corner.
The Rams will look to bounce back quickly on Tuesday evening when they finish out 2020 with a trip to Birmingham City.
Derby County: Marshall (C), Wisdom, Shinnie, Bielik, Jozwiak (Sibley, 85), Waghorn, Byrne, Kazim-Richards (Hector-Ingram, 90, Clarke, Buchanan, Knight.
Substitutes: Roos, Forsyth, Bird, Ibe, Evans, Holmes, Watson.
Preston North End: Rudd, Fisher (Stockley, 60), Earl, Davies, Browne (C), Johnson, Gallagher (Ledson, 69), Huntington, Maguire (Jakobsen, 60), Barkhuizen, Sinclair (Bayliss, 69).
Substitutes: Ripley, Rafferty, Storey, Harrop, O’Reilly