Substitute Jermaine Beckford denied Crewe Alexandra a third straight win after fellow replacement George Cooper had earned the hosts a late lead against Preston North End.
Teenager Cooper finished well when fastening onto Nicky Ajose’s 81st minute pass but on loan Beckford swiftly equalised to keep the visitors right on the tails of the leaders.
Paul Gallagher could only find the clutches of home goalkeeper Ben Garratt during an opening half of few opportunities.
Garratt also kept out John Welsh and Andy Liddle after the break while substitute Beckford missed a great chance for the visitors when dragging wide from close in.
The Railwaymen forged ahead inside the final ten minutes as young prospect Cooper gave them the lead when swapping passes with Ajose.
However, just two minutes later former Everton striker Beckford ran onto ex-England man Kevin Davies’ flick to equalise.
Goalscorer Beckford then went close to a winner when having another effort blocked by Harry Davis in added time.
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Stewart, Davis, Guthrie, Baillie, Turton (Cooper 68), Grant, Ness, Leigh, Ajose, Haber (Ikpeazu 63)
subs (unused): Shearer, Tootle, Nolan, Jones, Ng
Goals: Cooper (81)
Preston North End: Stuckmann, Wiseman, Clarke, Huntington, Laird, Browne, Welsh (Kilkenny 86), Brownhill, Gallagher (Beckford 68), Davies, Little (Humphrey 60)
subs (unused): Jones, Wright, Woods, King
Goals: Beckford (83)
Ref: S. Stockbridge
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