Ross Wallace curled in a delightful free-kick to cancel out Billy Clarke's early opener and secure a precious 1-1 for Preston at Blackpool.

Clarke, who became Ian Holloway's first signing in the summer after he was released by Ipswich, opened the scoring after just 27 seconds with a sweetly-struck shot from 25 yards.

The 21-year-old striker went on to hit the woodwork twice in the first half but the Seasiders could not make their dominance pay and Wallace punished them with a fine goal seven minutes before the break.

The Scotland winger was booked after he ran to the visiting supporters to celebrate and a steward appeared to get injured after being caught up in the ensuing melee.

Preston deserved credit for grinding out a result after being outplayed for the majority of the first half by Holloway's vibrant side, whose point lifted them into sixth spot.

Clarke's goal was indicative of the attacking intent coursing through the home side and began with him collecting possession 30 yards from goal.

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.

It was the perfect start and Blackpool should have been out of sight at half-time after fashioning a succession of openings which went begging.

Algeria striker Hameur Bouazza had the ball in the net after four minutes but was correctly ruled offside.

After Wallace forced home goalkeeper Matt Gilks into a fine parried save in the fifth minute, Blackpool went close again when Clarke shot straight at Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan from 12 yards out.

In the 15th minute, Blackpool striker Ben Burgess blazed wildly over the crossbar from a similar position.

Adam then saw a fine low shot pushed away by Lonergan before Clarke's hooked effort shaved a post in the 37th minute.

Seconds later, Preston were level when Wallace stepped up to curl a left-footed free-kick into the top corner and spark raucous scenes among the visiting supporters.

Yet Blackpool should have been back in front four minutes before the break when Clarke smashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar.

Blackpool went close after the restart when Adam shot and headed over in quick succession and then Bouazza and Burgess both shot wide.

Preston threatened fleetingly and Neil Mellor fired over with 18 minutes remaining but neither side could find the winning goal their supporters so desperately craved.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
#Billy Clarke
#Ross Wallace
#Ipswich Town
#Andy Lonergan
#Neil Mellor
#Championship
#Preston North End
#Ben Burgess
#Blackpool
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