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BBC Sport's Nick Mullins
"The win was deserved"
 real 14k

Rovers boss Graeme Souness
"It's been a long hard season"
 real 14k

Blackburn chief executive John Williams
"It's been a tense two years, and well worth the wait"
 real 14k

Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
Blackburn's Premiership return
Matt Jansen scores Blackburn's winner
Jansen scores Blackburn's winner
Preston North End 0-1 Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn secured their return to the Premiership with a hard-fought victory over Preston.

Manager Graeme Souness' side avoided going into a tense last game promotion decider with Bolton Wanderers by gaining the all important victory they needed in their penultimate league outing of the season.

Rovers are now four points ahead of Bolton going into the last match on Saturday and assured of their automatic passage into the top-flight, along with Division One champions Fulham.

But Preston, already guaranteed a play-off spot, did their best to make the visitors road to three points at their Deepdale stadium a rocky one.

And it was not before a feisty opening exchange that Blackburn began to carve out goalscoring opportunities, which saw a goal disallowed after 10 minutes.

Damien Johnson lifted a ball into the Preston area and team-mate Garry Flitcroft jostled for possesion.

Blackburn boss Graeme Souness
Souness was unhappy at some refereeing decisions

Johnson followed his pass into the box and headed the loose ball past on-rushing goalkeeper David Lucas.

But the effort was disallowed goal for Flitcroft's challenge on Alexander.

Flitcroft was again in the thick of the action when he latched onto a Mark Hughes back-heel before seeing his shot well-saved by Lucas.

From the resultant corner, Lucas tipped a Craig Short header over.

Matt Jansen was then the culprit for Blackburn as he headed a Keith Gillespie cross wide from six yards.

Lucas was proving a thorn in the Blackburn side's attempts to score and his outstretched leg was just enough to deny Hughes.

Preston had served notice that they also possessed a threat on goal, which was almost realised when Iain Anderson screamed a powerful long range free-kick narrowly wide.

Priceless

Blackburn continued to press only for the inspired Lucas to palm away a well-struck acute-angled shot from substitute Marcus Bent.

The home side's Jon Macken went close with two long range shots before Blackburn's frustration was finally lifted with Jansen's eventual winner.

Following Short heading a Craig Hignett corner across goal, the ball bounced into Jansen's path and he gratefully nodded in for a priceless effort.

Preston substitute Gunnlaugsson sent an 84th minute left-foot shot just wide to keep the visitors' nerves on tenterhooks.

Macken then turned and beat Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel but saw his shot come back off the post.

Blackburn, who claimed the Premiership title in 1995, saw out the remainder of the game to complete their top-flight return since being relegated at the end of the 1999 season.


Preston: Lucas, Alexander, Edwards, Gregan, Kidd, Cartwright, Anderson, Rankine, Barry-Murphy, Macken, Cresswell. Subs: Lonergan, Eaton, Keene, Healy, Gunnlaugsson.

Blackburn: Friedel, Curtis, Short, Berg, Johnson, Gillespie, Flitcroft, Dunn, Duff, Jansen, Hughes. Subs: Filan, Taylor, Hignett, McAteer, Bent.

Referee: R Pearson (Peterlee)

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