Wallace free-kick earns precious point for Irvine

Blackpool 1 Preston 1
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The Independent Football

Ross Wallace curled in a delightful free-kick to cancel out Billy Clarke's first-minute goal and secure a precious Championship point for Preston North End away to Blackpool last night.

Clarke, who became Ian Holloway's first signing in the summer after he was released by Ipswich Town, opened the scoring after just 27 seconds with a sweetly struck shot from 25 yards. Clarke displayed neat skill to beat a Preston defender and cut infield before unleashing a dipping left-foot strike which flew into the bottom corner.

The 21-year-old striker went on to hit the woodwork twice in the first half, but the home side could not turn their domination into goals. The Algeria striker Hameur Bouazza did have the ball in the net after four minutes, but was correctly ruled offside.

And Blackpool were punished when Wallace stepped up to curl a classy strike into the top corner and level the scores seven minutes before the break. The Scotland winger was booked after he ran to the visiting supporters to celebrate and a steward appeared to be injured after becoming caught up in the ensuing mêlée.

Preston deserved credit for grinding out a result after being outplayed for the majority of the first half by Holloway's side, who rise to sixth in the table.