Match ends, Port Vale 2, Preston North End 2.
Michael O'Connor twice equalised from the spot as 10-man Port Vale shared the spoils with promotion-chasing Preston in a game of three penalties.
North End deservedly led at the break through Daniel Johnson but Vale levelled from O'Connor's penalty after Tom Clarke felled Tom Pope.
Richard Duffy was dismissed for handball and Joe Garner's spot-kick put the visitors back in front.
However, O'Connor's second penalty for the hosts earned a point.
The Vale midfielder had himself been brought down by John Welsh, and kept his cool for a second time to send keeper Sam Johnstone the wrong way again to rescue a point.
Vale move four points clear of trouble, with just two games left, while the visitors, unbeaten now in 14 games are now four points clear of third-placed MK Dons, going into the rest of this weekend's League One programme.
|North End's need for automatic promotion|
|Having failed in the play-offs nine times, at both the second and third tiers of English football since their inception in 1987, Preston fans have long since worked out that their only route to promotion is the automatic one as they did under David Moyes in 2000.|
In a one-sided first half, Garner was twice thwarted, and Jermaine Beckford also went close before Johnson latched onto a loose ball in the box to blast his eighth goal of the season on 12 minutes.
Garner also saw a header fly over, while Johnson's low left-foot volley seared straight into the keeper's midriff.
But, for all Preston's domination, it was only a precarious 1-0 lead at the break and Vale were level when, after a more vibrant start to the second half following top scorer Pope's introduction, they were level.
Defender Clarke panicked himself into a push on Pope and O'Connor drilled home the penalty.
Parity lasted seven minutes for Vale, as Duffy stretched out an arm to touch Clarke's goal bound shot into the bar - and, after he had duly been red-carded, Garner slotted in the penalty.
Mark Marshall had a low left-foot shot tipped round the post, before Vale earned another lifeline five minutes from time when John Welsh brought down O'Connor - and the Vale midfielder scored again from the spot.
Port Vale manager Rob Page told BBC Radio Stoke:
"The lads have got what they deserved tonight and I could not be more proud of them. They showed a lot of character but I'm not surprised by it.
"It takes a lot of bottle to take two penalties, like Michael O'Connor did, especially the second one when it's a mental battle against the keeper.
"But he and Tom Pope stay behind to practise penalties every day - and O'Connor is just shading it at the moment, which is why he's taking them."
Preston manager Simon Grayson told BBC Radio Lancashire:
"Two points dropped again, just as we did on Tuesday night. And, in the last 10 minutes, it looked like we were the team with 10 men and they'd got 11, which is frustrating.
"Both penalties we conceded were avoidable and that's now four points dropped this week.
"But, very difficult though that is to accept right now, our destiny is still in our own hands. If we win the next three, we're promoted."
- 6DuffyBooked at 58mins
- 8DoddsBooked at 42minsSubstituted forYatesat 61'minutes
- 17BrownBooked at 60mins
- 9WilliamsonSubstituted forCoulibalyat 76'minutes
- 28CampionSubstituted forPopeat 45'minutes
- 5ClarkeBooked at 51mins
- 19WelshBooked at 85minsSubstituted forDaviesat 90'minutes
- 27RobinsonSubstituted forHumphreyat 70'minutes
- 14GarnerBooked at 87mins
- 10BeckfordSubstituted forEbanks-Blakeat 89'minutes
- Richard Clark
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Port Vale 2, Preston North End 2.
Attempt missed. Daniel Johnson (Preston North End) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.
Paul Huntington (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tom Pope (Port Vale).
Foul by Paul Huntington (Preston North End).
Tom Pope (Port Vale) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Port Vale. Conceded by Scott Laird.
Foul by Joe Garner (Preston North End).
Neill Collins (Port Vale) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Preston North End. Kevin Davies replaces John Welsh.
Substitution, Preston North End. Sylvain Ebanks-Blake replaces Jermaine Beckford.
Foul by Michael Brown (Port Vale).
John Welsh (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Joe Garner (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card.
Mark Marshall (Port Vale) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Joe Garner (Preston North End).
Goal! Port Vale 2, Preston North End 2. Michael O'Connor (Port Vale) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
John Welsh (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card.
Penalty Port Vale. Michael O'Connor draws a foul in the penalty area.