THE cruel nature of football was laid bare in a frustrating final few minutes for Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
They moved in to injury-time looking like recording a third win under Tony Mowbray, and climbing out of the bottom three.
However, Aiden McGeady’s equaliser for Preston, and a late goal for relegation rivals Nottingham Forest, was to see them remain in the bottom three going in to the two week international break.
Rovers will do so unbeaten in their seven games under Mowbray, and with renewed hope they can avoid the drop since he took charge.
But their inability to turn draws in to wins is what sees them remain in the relegation zone despite the upturn in performances, as well as feeling surrounding the club, since Mowbray’s arrival.
Their fourth draw on the bounce once again saw them have to come from behind, but they were to be let down by their game management in the closing stages as they failed to see the game out.
Sam Gallagher will likely be ruing his decision not to keep the ball in the corner in injury-time until he gets a chance to put that right against Brighton on April 1.
But it must be remembered that this Rovers side are in the development stage under Mowbray, and they will certainly benefit from two weeks on the training pitch before their next game.
Rovers have looked much harder to beat under Mowbray and shown great spirit in clawing back points with late equalisers against Cardiff and Fulham.
But they must start to seize their opportunities when in front, as a failure to score a decisive second, or on this occasion third, goal has cost them dear as wins continue to prove elusive.
Rovers were punished for a slow start as Preston took the lead in the 14th minute as Tom Barkhuizen squeezed his way between Ryan Nyambe and Darragh Lenihan to fire beyond Jason Steele.
But from thereafter though Mowbray’s men grew in to the game, and twice went close to levelling as Lucas Joao, who was handed his first Rovers start after goalscoring appearances off the bench against Norwich and Fulham, saw one header saved by Chris Maxwell and another come back off the inside of the post.
They were to level however just two minutes before the break when Elliott Bennett’s 25-yarder found the bottom corner after finding room in the middle of the pitch.
Barkhuizen passed up two good chances in the opening minutes of the second half, but arguably the move of the match saw Rovers take the lead nine minutes in to the second half.
Marvin Emnes teed up Craig Conway with a lovely slide rule pass after good work by Bennett down the right, and the Scottish winger made it two goals in a week as he calmly slotted beyond Maxwell.
The confidence among the home faithful was growing, but for all the flicks and tricks of the front two, and good build up play, Rovers rarely threatened a third, a Ryan Nyambe shot apart.
And it was that, as well as some attacking changes from Preston, that set up a grandstand finish.
Rovers had looked relatively untroubled though, prior to injury time when Paul Huntington thought he had grabbed an equaliser for the visitors, only to see his header chalked off for offside.. But the drama wasn’t to end there, as in injury-time, McGeady fired home from close range from a Tom Clarke pass.
Hearts were to be broken among the home faithful when McGeady's strike hit the back of the net, but not their spirit, as despite a fourth consecutive draw, and fifth in seven games under Mowbray, hope springs eternal that Rovers can pull off their escape act.
Tough tests continue to lie ahead, but the belief remains, despite another missed opportunity to move clear of the bottom three.