In the second half, good work from Dominic Vose allowed the ball to find its way to Garbutt, who found the bottom corner to equalise.
The game started with a confident home side looking to get forward and wide at every opportunity and Sam Walker had to palm away a first minute header from Garner.
A better chance came on five minutes, when a left wing cross from Gallagher caught out Cian Bolger but Kevin Davies couldn’t get his free header on target.
The U’s were finding it hard to get to grips with Gallagher and Holmes in the wide areas and another cross ended at Davies’ head but this effort went over and onto the roof of the net.
That came on fifteen minutes and a couple later, Bolger had to block bravely after Holmes’ header inside found Garner in space.
There was a setback for the U’s on twenty six minutes, as the returning Freddie Sears had to be replaced by Jabo Ibehre.
On the half hour, the U’s had a rare foray into the Preston half, ending with Clinton Morrison not getting enough contact on his header from a Ryan Dickson cross.
The home side went straight down the other end and Clarke’s header lacked power and Walker was able to comfortably save.
As the pressure grew, walker was called into action twice in the space of a minute, both times from the ever dangerous Paul Gallagher.
The former Scottish international was first denied when Walker saved his free kick, then the Chelsea loanee tipped over from a shot from twenty yards out.
The best U’s chance of the half came three minutes from the break, when Alex Gilbey regained possession high up the pitch and the loose ball fell to Jabo Ibehre.
The U’s centre forward ran forward, cut inside the last defender but couldn’t find the target with his shot from the edge of the box.
Garner then headed wide as he stretched for a cross, when the best option qould have been to leave it for strike partner Davies who was in a better position.
The game went into injury time, one minute was signalled by the fourth official, looking like they would escape without conceding.
Gallagher and Garner had different ideas though, and the former’s whipped cross was converted well by the latter to make it 1-0 to the hosts at half time.
The second half started with the U’s getting closer to their opponents and denying them the space they enjoyed in the first forty five minutes.
It didn’t stop full back Clarke getting forward, but he was ambitious in his attempt at lobbing Walker from the edge of the box.
With only four minutes gone, there was another injury setback for the U’s, as Gavin Massey couldn’t continue, and he was replaced by Tosin Olufemi.
While the U’s were coping a bit better with their Preston counterparts, the chances were still coming at Walker’s end.
After a long range shot was deflected for a corner, Clarke couldn’t get his header on target from the resultant set piece and the U’s remained just the one goal behind.
As the game reached the hour mark, the U’s finally got forward and created a chance, Bean heading over from a Morrison cross.
The play switched straight back to the other end though, and it should have been 2-0 to the hosts but Gallagher headed straight at Walker who palmed the ball onto the crossbar.
That came on sixty four minutes and sixty seconds later, Preston really should have been two ahead.
The ball fell to Garner from a U’s touch but the home forward couldn’t double his or his side’s tally as he shot wide from eight yards out.
Davies then failed to get on the end of things, as a shot from Garner was deflected to the far post. The ex England international was on his heels though and couldn’t reach the ball to put it into the empty net.
In a final throw of the dice, Dunne replaced a full back with an attacking player in the sixty eighth minute, Dominic Vose coming on for Ryan Dickson.
It paid dividends eight minutes later, as Vose battled hard and then squared the ball to Luke Garbutt.
The Everton loanee took a touch and then drilled his left foot shot low into the bottom corner, giving Rudd in the home goal no chance.
The goal seemed to take the wind out of Simon Grayson’s side and they only had Garner’s volley over the top to show for their efforts in the final fourteen minutes.
A couple of half hearted penalty appeals came and went for Preston but they didn’t test Walker further and the final whistle went with the scores level.
The U’s certainly rode their luck at Deepdale but were resilient in denying Preston a second goal and got their equaliser with a great strike.
Worrying injuries to Sears and Massey put a dampener on the valuable point and they won’t be available for Tuesday night’s game against MK Dons.