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Saturday, 19 October, 2002, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Walsall 3-3 Preston

Defender Graham Alexander was the unlikely hero in a dramatic game as he earned Preston a point two minutes from time at the Bescot Stadium.

Walsall paid the price for the sending-off of goalkeeper James Walker as they surrendered a two-goal lead in the last 15 minutes.

Walker was dismissed for a handball outside the box on the half-hour, with his side two goals ahead.

And although David Healy soon pulled a goal back for Preston, Zigor Aranalde's penalty in first-half injury time restored Walsall's advantage and deep into the second period the points looked secure for Colin Lee's men.

But then a Chris Lucketti header and the late goal from Alexander gave Preston a share of the spoils.

And Craig Brown's team could have snatched a winner at the death only for Richard Cresswell's overhead kick to be saved by Walsall's substitute keeper Gavin Ward.

The crowd were treated to a memorable first half, including a candidate for goal of the season from Brazilian striker Junior.

Manager Lee had not given the striker a start until earlier this month, but his 25-yard rocket that ended a surging run from deep was Junior's second in three games.

Unlikely point

Despite conceding the first-half goals, Preston enjoyed the lion's share of the play and never gave up hope.

They pulled themselves back into the game soon after Walker's sending-off.

Eric Skora's cross from the left wing was headed home by Healy.

Walsall went close to scoring what would have been a decisive fourth goal.

Jorge Leitao's volley was blocked by Lucketti and Moilanen denied Steve Corica from 18 yards.

But the game swung dramatically in the 75th minute when another Skora cross caused problems at the back for the Saddlers and a towering header from Lucketti gave Ward no chance.

Then two minutes from time Alexander's goal from Iain Anderson's cross rescued an unlikely point for the visitors and denied Walsall a fourth win in six games.


Walsall: Walker, Bazeley, Carbon, Roper, Aranalde, Wrack, O'Connor, Simpson, Corica, Junior, Leitao. Subs: Ward, Zdrilic, Barras, Sonner, Birch.

Preston: Moilanen, Alexander, Murdock, Lucketti, Broomes, Skora, Rankine, Etuhu, McKenna, Healy, Cresswell. Subs: Lucas, Jackson, Eaton, Mears, Anderson.

Referee: P Joslin (Nottinghamshire).

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Radio Lancashire's Gary Flintoff
"Six goals, a sending off and high drama"
Preston boss Craig Brown
"That first half was totally unacceptable"

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