First Division leaders Fulham rued a failure to take their chances as they had to settle for a draw at Preston this afternoon despite an outstanding display of flowing football.

Jean Tigana’s men had to show some serious character to come back from going behind only three minutes in when central defender Michael Jackson buried a close range header to the delight of the Deepdale regulars. A sensational thirty-yard strike from Sean Davis drew the Whites level, but the visitors couldn’t force a winner despite dominating possession and creating a host of chances. North End boss David Moyes compared the Cottagers to Arsenal and West Ham, calling them ‘fantastic’ and saluted his resolute rearguard – who managed to hold on for a point.

The home side made a dream start when Jackson headed in Gary Parkinson’s free-kick unattended from seven yards out in the fourth minute. The opening goal seemed to sting the Londoners into life with Luis Boa Morte tested David Lucas’s reflexes reflexes with a drive from a tight angle. The Preston keeper, outstanding when North End won at Craven Cottage in the reverse fixture earlier this season, made a smart save but Bjarne Goldbaek should have done better than screw the rebound wide of goal.

The Danish winger then whistled a thirty yard free kick agonisingly wide of the far post before Boa Morte was thwarted by Lucas in a one-on-one. His strike partner Louis Saha was well marshalled by the Preston defence for most of the afternoon – and showed his frustration as he was booked for simulation shortly afterwards. The hosts might have gone in at the break 2-0 up when Jon Macken blazed over the bar in stoppage time.

But Fulham stepped up the tempo in the second half and Davis curled in a majestic equaliser from fully thirty yards on the hour mark. The midfielder then saw a free-kick scrambled off the line by Jackson and substitute Barry Hayles went close when he surged through the home defence only to fire fractionally over the bar.

PRESTON NORTH END (4-3-3): Lucas; Parkinson, Edwards, Jackson, Gregan; Rankine, McKenna, Robinson; Anderson (Cartwright 45), Macken, Meijer (Gunnlaugsson 69). Subs (not used): Moilanen, Barry-Murphy.

BOOKED: McKenna, Rankine.

GOAL: Jackson (4).

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Coleman; Davis, Clark, Goldbaek, Fernandes; Saha, Boa Morte (Hayles 67). Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Symons, Sahnoun, Lewis.

BOOKED: Saha, Brevett, Boa Morte.

GOAL: Davis (60).

REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).


by scorer Jackson.

With the minutes ticking away substitute Barry Hayles burst through the defence and nearly scored with a fierce drive.