CHERRIES’ hopes of a third successive Championship victory were thwarted by a second-half fightback from Preston.

An Arnaut Danjuma goal deservedly put Cherries ahead at half-time at Deepdale.

But first-half misses came back to haunt the visitors as Preston markedly improved after the restart, eventually levelling through Daniel Johnson and taking a share of the spoils in the 1-1 draw.

That result, coupled with a win for Barnsley, sees Cherries slip outside of the Championship play-off places.

For the third game in a row, Jonathan Woodgate named an unchanged starting XI. There were three alterations among the substitutes with Jack Wilshere back from suspension while young duo Jordan Zemura and Gavin Kilkenny were also included. Philip Billing, Diego Rico and Christian Saydee missed out.

It took Ben Pearson barely a minute to make his mark on the club he left to join Cherries little over a month ago, committing a quick foul during the scrappy early stages.

The only shot in anger of the opening 20 minutes went the way of the visitors. Danjuma teed up Lloyd Kelly, who had broken forward from left-back. His low shot was well-placed, but his wait for a first Cherries goal goes on as Daniel Iversen got down smartly to save.

Goalkeeper Iversen was then called into action on multiple occasions as Cherries began to turn the screw midway through the first half.

Lewis Cook’s deflected shot was held by the Dane, before he then dived to parry away a fierce Jefferson Lerma effort.

The impressive Dominic Solanke then did well to tee up Junior Stanislas, but the winger slipped as he went to strike the ball.

Kelly was enjoying some more joy down the left flank and his low drive was met by Danjuma on the half-hour mark, but the Dutchman’s flick was stopped by Iversen at his near post.

However, the Dutchman was not to be denied. After a long ball forward caused centre-back Jordan Storey problems, Solanke gathered possession and slid the ball into the path of Danjuma arriving in the box. He made no mistake, slamming high past Iversen for his eighth goal of the campaign, and the first away from Vitality Stadium since November.

Preston looked for a quick response, finally registering a shot when a Tom Barkhuizen cross was met by Alan Browne at the back post, but the Lilywhites skipper scuffed his effort as Cherries deservedly went in a goal up at the break.

Alex Neil’s men looked brighter after the restart, looking to restore parity through Storey, whose half volley flew wide of the post.

Lewis Cook tried his luck at the other end before Ched Evans looked to break through. The striker bore down on Cherries’ goal, only for Kelly to get back and make the challenge. The ball did then fall for Evans in space in the box moments later, but his shot deflected over the crossbar.

The hosts then saw a penalty shout for handball waved away when a dropping ball struck Pearson in the box. Referee Jarred Gillett was unmoved.

But the hosts did level the game with around 20 minutes to play. Steve Cook’s scuffed clearance fell kindly for Johnson, who proceeded to head towards goal. Centre-back pairing Cook and Cameron Carter-Vickers then looked to get in a muddle, allowing Johnson space to curl left-footed into the bottom corner, past the despairing dive of Asmir Begovic.

Woodgate turned to his bench, introducing both Shane Long and Wilshere for the closing stages.

But neither could have the desired effect as the game ended all square.

Cherries: Begovic; Smith, Carter-Vickers, S Cook, Kelly; L Cook (Long, 75), Pearson, Lerma; Stanislas (Wilshere, 84), Danjuma, Solanke.

Unused subs: Stacey, Mepham, Zemura, Kilkenny, Riquelme, Anthony, Travers (g/k).

Booked: None.

Preston: Iversen; van den Berg, Huntington, Storey, Cunningham; Whiteman, Browne, Johnson (Potts, 84); Barkhuizen (Maguire, 66), Sinclair (Gordon, 66), Evans.

Unused subs: Rafferty, Riis, Bayliss, Molumby, Gallagher, Ripley (g/k).

Booked: Johnson, Cunningham.

Referee: Jarred Gillett.