Greg Abbott launched a staunch defence of his Carlisle team, despite their poor npower League One form continuing with a cruel last-gasp 1-1 draw at Preston.

Being forced to share the spoils at Deepdale - thanks to Preston substitute Graham Cummins' 94th-minute equaliser which cancelled out Joe Garner's first-half penalty - means the Cumbrians have won just twice in their last eight league games. But, despite those struggles, Abbott remained defiant about both his side's performance, and their wider potential.

"The players, myself, probably everybody has been coming in for some criticisms and that hurts me," he said. "I think they've answered a few people. I thought the players were magnificent."

On Cummins' late leveller, Abbott added: "For once, it is an unbelievable cross and an unbelievable header and our keeper (Adam Collin) got fingertips to it, and it hit the post and went in. There is a not a great deal you can do about that.

"Sometimes you just have to say that couldn't have been avoided. It wasn't a mistake, it wasn't a bad back pass, it wasn't that nobody tracked the runner. It was just a fantastic ball from (Lee) Holmes."

Abbott looked set to be celebrating a win after Watford loanee Garner notched his sixth of the season from the penalty spot in the 31st minute. However, Cummins' stoppage-time header from Holmes' cross ensured the points were shared.

Despite his side's late let off North End boss Graham Westley was anything but a happy man.

He was convinced his side were denied a goal in the first half when Scott Laird's inswinging corner looked to have gone over the line, and he said: "I'm getting sick to death of decisions. I'm really frustrated by the way decisions are getting made not in our favour and against us. When we score a goal, we don't have the god damn thing given. We need to look at it closely, all these decisions going against us.

"I really feel for the players because there is something that we've done to create this situation and I don't know what it is. Maybe it is just that we're a big club where people think they've got to come and make their mark on us.

"I'm staggered that the goal wasn't given early on. I could see from the dugout that the ball was over the line by a distance. You got a linesman and a referee to see the ball over the line and it doesn't get given."