Blankety-blank for the Lilywhites

Captain Kevin Nicholls jumps into action

Captain Kevin Nicholls jumps into action

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PNE v Bristol City, September 29, 2007

This goalless draw with Bristol City at Deepdale was part of an uninspiring start made to the 2007/08 season by Preston.

Just one win came their way in the first nine league and cup games that term.

It didn’t get much better after that, a run of two victories in the next eight leading to the sacking of PNE boss Paul Simpson.

The Robins arrived at Deepdale unbeaten in their first eight Championship matches.

North End went into it on the back of a 2-2 draw with Cardiff the previous week.

They started the contest brightly enough, a corner from skipper Kevin Nicholls travelling untouched through the goalmouth and having to be cleared off the line.

At the other end, a shot from City’s Bradley Orr was well saved by Preston keeper Andrew Lonergan.

Preston threatened when Darren Carter’s corner was met by Paul Gallagher, his flicked header dropping wide of the far post.

Karl Hawley saw a shot from 20 yards miss the target, while Gallagher forced a save out of City goalkeeper Adriano Basso.

Two minutes before half-time, PNE should have taken the lead when a through ball from Callum Davidson sent Hawley clear.

But the former Carlisle man put his shot too close to Basso who saved.

It took an hour for City to force their first corner of the contest, Lee Johnson’s flag kick gathered by Lonergan.

In the 63rd minute, Neil Mellor stepped off the bench to replace Gallagher up front.

The substitute nearly scored with his first touch, shooting inches too high from inside the box.

There were chances as the game went on for North End winger Chris Sedgwick and Mellor.

Both sides almost snatched victory in the closing stages.

Carter forced Basso into a good save, then at the other end, a shot from City’s Scott Murray came back off the bar.

Lilywhites boss Simpson felt his side had done enough to win the game.

Simpson said: “In the first half, especially, that’s as well as we’ve played this season.

“We’re on a little run of form which is much more pleasing than in the first part of the season.

“I think with the way we played in the first half we probably deserved three points, but we came up against a side that are playing on the adrenaline you get from promotion, are unbeaten and have a fantastic spirit.

“They’ve been taking results out of those games with late goals and I’m glad that didn’t happen to us.

“It’s definitely a point gained but I think our performance of the first half deserved three.”

Robins manager Gary Johnson said: “We’re an honest group and we know that we didn’t turn up in the first half and had to make a major turn around in the second.

“We dug in there and if you’re not going to win, it’s important not to lose.”

Preston: Lonergan, Jones, Mawene (St Ledger 90), Chilvers, Hill, Sedgwick, Nicholls, Davidson, Carter, Hawley (Agyemang 80), Gallagher (Mellor 63). Subs (not used): Chris Neal, Lewis Neal.