Diego De Girolamo scored his first goal for Sheffield United as last season's FA Cup semi-finalists earned a fourth-round replay with a 1-1 draw at Deepdale.
Preston began the brighter and Paul Gallagher opened the scoring on 19 minutes but Italy under-20 international De Girolamo struck midway through the second half for the Blades.
Sheffield United captain Michael Doyle accepts his side must lift their game to an even higher level if they are to pull off another upset in their two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Tottenham.
But the Irish midfielder insists if the tie is still alive after Wednesday night's first leg at White Hart Lane, Nigel Clough's cup specialists will have "a brilliant chance" in the return leg at Bramall Lane.
"There's a lot to play for and I'm sure Tottenham will be fired up," Doyle said. "They'll look at our previous results and performances in other cup games and I'm sure they'll take note of that.
"They won't underestimate us, especially as we've come so far and they'll be looking to finish it in the first leg, so we've got to be on our guard.
"I just hope we can keep the tie alive. If we can, coming back to Bramall Lane will give us a brilliant chance."
The issue of whether convicted rapist Ched Evans should return to football is "not clear cut", FA chairman Greg Dyke has said.
While Dyke refused to give his own view on Sheffield United allowing Evans to train following his release from prison, he said there is a "straightforward question" that needs to be answered.
He told BBC's Newsnight: "Here's the straightforward question - are people who go to prison entitled to come out of prison and to try and rebuild their lives or aren't they?
"Or is what they've done so bad and because they're in an industry where their image is important - and that's the dilemma and it's not clear cut."
TV presenter Charlie Webster has resigned as a patron after Sheffield United allowed convicted rapist Ched Evans to return for training.Read the full story ›
Over 157,000 people have signed a petition urging Sheffield United not to re-sign convicted rapist Ched EvansRead the full story ›
Ched Evans' aunt has attacked the footballer for not apologising to the victim of the rape for which he was convicted.
Nina Evans, 56, told the Sun: “Ched won’t grasp or listen. He won’t admit he’s done wrong. He’ll never show remorse.”
Ms Evans, who works as an addiction counsellor and sometimes treats rape victims, said she was very disappointed in a video apology her nephew made.
In the video Evans apologised to girlfriend Natasha Massey but did not mention his victim.
“It cut me like a knife. I hoped he’d come to his senses and say the right thing. What about his poor victim? It’s a massive insult to her," Ms Evans said.
Footballer Ched Evans has confirmed his lawyers have issued an application to appeal his rape conviction and "clear his name" following his release from prison.
Speaking alongside his girlfriend Natasha Massey in a video statement posted on his website, the 25-year-old Evans said he made an "incredibly foolish decision" to cheat on his partner but said the sexual encounter with a woman in a hotel room that saw him convicted of rape was "consensual".
The former Wales international and Sheffield United player, who was released from jail last Friday after serving half of a five-year jail term, added:
It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to be permitted to play professional football. Now that I have served the custodial part of my sentence of two and a half years, it is my hope that I will be able to return to football...
...I don't believe I have a given right to play again. But for any club to take me on I have learned a valuable lesson and know that over time I can prove myself to be a positive influence.
Ched Evans has issued a video statement asking for a "second chance" to resume his professional football career after serving a prison sentence for rape.
The former Sheffield United striker, sitting alongside his girlfriend Natasha Massey, said it was his "hope" to return to the game, adding: "If that is possible then I will do so with humility having learned a very painful lesson."
Evans said he remained "determined to continue the fight to clear my name" in the video released on his personal website.
The BBC has apologised after presenter Michael Buerk broadcast that footballer Ched Evans' rape victim was among those not coming away "with any credit" from the case because she was "so drunk she could barely stand".
Speaking in a trailer for this evening's Radio 4 programme Moral Maze, which will debate whether Evans should return to his former club Sheffield United after his prison release, Buerk said:
Nobody comes out of the Ched Evans rape case with any credit. Not the victim who had drunk so much she could barely stand, nor the two footballers who had sex with her in the most sordid of circumstances.
The jury convicted only one of rape and now, after serving half his five-year sentence, ashamed but unrepentant, Ched Evans has been released and there is talk of a £500,000 contract to return to his club, Sheffield United.
This morning's aired comments received strong criticism from rape charities amid an angry public response. A spokesman for Radio 4 said:
There was no intention to suggest that the victim was in any way at fault, and we apologise if the way this live trail was phrased suggested this.
Tonight’s Moral Maze will ask whether a convicted rapist who maintains his innocence should be entitled to get his job back.
The criticism of Buerk's comments come after public outrage at TV presenter Judy Finnigan's claim that the victim in the case had "had far too much to drink" and that the "rape was not violent".
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has said it is to begin investigating the Evans case "within the next few weeks".
A spokesman for the body, which reviews possible miscarriages of justice and has the power to refer cases to the Court of Appeal, told the Observer newspaper that representations had been made by the footballer's legal team to prioritise the case.
He told the paper that after the request "in line with our published policy on prioritisation, and in relation to the facts of the case and the issues raised in Mr Evans's application to us ... we now expect our substantive investigation to begin within the next few weeks".
He added that the decision to fast-track the case had no bearing on whether it may be referred to the appeal courts.