Manager Graham Westley saw Stevenage throw the kitchen sink at Preston North End in the dying stages as Jimmy Smith's stoppage-time equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw.

Things looked bleak for the Boro two weeks ago as they were bottom of the table and nine points adrift of safety, but they are now out of the Sky Bet League 1 relegation zone on goal difference.

Tranmere Rovers have replaced them in the bottom four, but the result damages Preston's promotion hopes as it leaves them six points off an automatic promotion place.

Westley said: "It was almost getting to that point that I was thinking it was getting away from us, but at the same time I was thinking 'what can we do?'

"We threw everything we could at them, we moved the players around this way, that way and the other and thankfully we eventually found a formula that broke them open and got the equaliser.

"The top six sides are where they are for a reason and they've got a lot of expensively-assembled players working hard at the top end of the league.

"They've got a lot to work with and in the first half I think we played a little bit in awe of maybe some of the reputations.

"In the second half we showed a lot more composure and our athleticism came through as the game wore on and their legs ran out, our legs came into the game and we played some really good football."

Preston looked to have picked up the points thanks to Tom Clarke's 17th-minute goal when he struck from close range from Kevin Davies' flick-on.

But Stevenage saved themselves two minutes into added time as Darius Charles nodded down Luke Freeman's cross with Smith smashing through a crowd of bodies at the near post.

Preston boss Simon Grayson said: "I certainly feel like we've had our pocket picked.

"We're very disappointed in that dressing room that we haven't won that game because we've dominated 95 per cent of it.

"You know you're in for a tough game here, but we managed to deal with everything they threw at us.

"We matched them and we controlled the game apart from that last five minutes where we didn't see the game out when we should have done.

"I felt we should have had a penalty because Joe Garner's run across their lad who's clipped him.

"I thought the referee was strong as it's not easy to referee these types of games, but I thought it was a penalty, Joe thought it was a penalty and their lad half-admitted it as well.

"We're disappointed with that, but we didn't see the game out in the professional manner that we should have done."