Match ends, Preston North End 1, Nottingham Forest 1.
Preston North End missed the opportunity to move into the Championship play-off places after they were held by fellow promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest at Deepdale.
Alex Neil's side would have climbed above Cardiff on goal difference and into sixth with victory, but were unable to find a winner against fifth-placed Forest, once Jayden Stockley's low finish cancelled out Lewis Grabban's early penalty for the visitors.
Preston shaded the first hour of the match, and might have added to Stockley's 15th-minute leveller had Ben Watson not got a foot to Patrick Bauer's header and Carl Jenkinson's lunge not blocked Brad Potts after he got in behind.
Forest's main threat came from Sammy Ameobi, who fired over from the edge of the box and curled another effort wide, and the introduction of Thiago Silva gave them extra impetus going forward but chances remained sparse.
Goalkeeper Brice Samba denied Preston's Sean Maguire with a near-post save, and Joe Worrall blocked Tom Barkhuizen's shot to ensure Forest a share of the points at the end of a close-fought contest.
Play-off race remains tight
The draw leaves Preston just two points off sixth, but with Swansea also in the hunt, as well as Millwall and Derby hot on their heels, victory would have been a huge boost to their play-off chances.
There was plenty of intent, as Neil's side took the game to the visitors, but found Forest defensively sound and equally desperate to avoid defeat.
Stockley's goal was a rare occasion where they got in behind the visiting backline thanks to cute movement from Brad Potts, as both defences came out on top overall.
The Lillywhites were unfortunate to lose midfielder Ben Pearson to injury at half-time after a collision with team-mate Maguire, as he had been a key part of the midfield battle during a physical first-half.
By contrast, Forest would require a real fade in form from their final three games to drop out of the reckoning, but wins for Fulham and Brentford this weekend means they are unlikely to finish any higher than fifth.
Sabri Lamouchi cut a frustrated figure at times, as his side huffed and puffed but were unable to fully impose themselves on the game.
They made a flying start when Ben Pearson clumsily clattered Nuno Da Costa in the box, and Grabban coolly slotted past Rudd.
Yet Rudd had few genuine moments of panic in a game largely contested in the centre of the pitch.
The Reds now have a six-point buffer to Swansea in seventh, at least until the Swans play leaders Leeds on Sunday.
Preston boss Alex Neil said: "I wouldn't say we are pleased. They had one shot on target and that was the penalty.
"That shows how well we defended. Then it was about converting opportunities.
"It was a really silly penalty to give away. They get a lot of players behind the ball and are difficult to break down, so we made it hard for ourselves.
"But we got the goal back and pushed to get the next one. Unfortunately we couldn't convert any of those opportunities.
"But we are still in the hunt. We have three big games left."
Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi said: "It is a good point and a good performance. I think it was a fair result, a good result.
"I am happy for the boys because they never give up, they are focused and serious. They are fighters.
"After many games in a few days they are very concentrated, looking forward and they know they have to keep going."
- 21BauerBooked at 16mins
- 6DaviesSubstituted forStoreyat 44'minutes
- 16HughesBooked at 49mins
- 4PearsonSubstituted forLedsonat 45'minutes
- 11JohnsonSubstituted forGallagherat 83'minutes
- 31SinclairSubstituted forBarkhuizenat 64'minutes
- 20StockleySubstituted forHarropat 82'minutes
- 21SowSubstituted forSilvaat 68'minutes
- 19AmeobiSubstituted forDiakhabyat 89'minutes
- 9da Costa JóiaSubstituted forMightenat 82'minutes
- Jeremy Simpson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Preston North End 1, Nottingham Forest 1.
Attempt blocked. Paul Gallagher (Preston North End) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Adama Diakhaby (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ryan Ledson (Preston North End).
Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Joe Worrall.
Attempt blocked. Tom Barkhuizen (Preston North End) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Josh Harrop.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Adama Diakhaby replaces Sammy Ameobi.
Ryan Yates (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ryan Ledson (Preston North End).
Attempt missed. Patrick Bauer (Preston North End) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a corner.
Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Lewis Grabban.
Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Brice Samba.
Attempt saved. Sean Maguire (Preston North End) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Paul Gallagher.
Substitution, Preston North End. Paul Gallagher replaces Daniel Johnson.
Substitution, Preston North End. Josh Harrop replaces Jayden Stockley.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Alex Mighten replaces Nuno da Costa.
Attempt missed. Tiago Silva (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Lewis Grabban.
Attempt missed. Lewis Grabban (Nottingham Forest) header from very close range is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Sammy Ameobi with a cross.
Foul by Ryan Yates (Nottingham Forest).