Full-time: Bristol City 1 PNE 1

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Preston North End had to settle for a point against Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

Jack King’s deflected shot gave them a 69th minute lead, but the Robins levelled through Wade Elliott six minutes later.

Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson

Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson

The draw assured PNE a place in the play-offs but their hopes of clinching automatic promotion are fading after wins for Brentford and Rotherham above them.

It wasn’t a classic game by any means, although both sides created some decent openings.

The goal from King was the utility man’s second of the season - both having come against City.

North End boss Simon Grayson had made three changes to the Lilywhites side.

Bailey Wright, Chris Humphrey and Craig Davies returned to the starting XI after being on the bench for the 1-0 win over Crawley last Saturday.

Stuart Beavon was missing from the squad because of illness, with Keith Keane and Paul Gallagher moving down to the bench.

PNE lined-up in a 3-4-1-2 system with Lee Holmes playing in the hole between midfield and attack.

With 10 minutes gone, David Buchanan’s cross from the left found Joe Garner at the far post, his header from eight yards parried out by City keeper Frank Fielding.

In the same passage of play, Holmes appeared to be clipped in the box by Adam El-Abd but referee Rob Lewis waved play on.

King hooked a shot over the bar after a Holmes free-kick had only been partly cleared by the home defence.

The Robins threatened just after the half-hour mark, Elliott sliding a pass down the side of the PNE defence to let in Sam Baldock whose low shot flashed just wide of the back post.

North End won a free-kick in the 34th minute when Holmes was brought down by El-Abd on the edge of the ‘D’ outside the box - the challenge earning the City centre-half a booking.

Buchanan shaped to take the free-kick but stepped over it, Neil Kilkenny hitting a low effort which sneaked under the wall and was saved by Fielding.

A good spell of pressure saw Garner send a header wide after being picked out by a Chris Humphrey cross.

Garner then crashed a first-time shot over the bar under pressure from both Karleigh Osborne and Nyron Nosworthy, a cross from Holmes having fallen to him.

In the 40th minute, striker Davies lifted a shot over the bar from the right side of the box.

John Welsh’s challenge on Scott Wagstaff just before the interval earned him a 10th yellow card of the campaign, ruling the PNE skipper out of the Carlisle and Brentford games through suspension.

Declan Rudd pulled off a fine reflex save to prevent the home side from taking the lead in the 58th minute.

Elliott’s corner from the left found its through to Osborne whose close-range shot was gloved away by the PNE keeper diving to his left.

Within sixty seconds, North End went close at the other end, Buchanan’s searching cross from the left finding Garner.

But the striker was at full stretch at the back post and could only send his header over the bar.

Grayson made a double substitution in the 67th minute, Brownhill and Browne replacing Welsh and Holmes.

The two young substitutes teamed-up to help give Preston the lead within two minutes.

Browne was fouled by Elliott as he surged forwards from midfield, earning a free-kick 25 yards out.

It was Brownhill who took the free-kick, his right-foot effort slamming into the wall and bouncing out.

Buchanan was first to the loose ball, squaring it to Brownhill who lifted a cross into the box.

Garner jumped and chested it down into the path of King, his first-time shot clipping Nosworthy and flying into the top corner.

The advantage was to last only six minutes, slack defending on the side of the box by Kilkenny allowing Elliott to get possession.

Elliott struck a slow shot which deflected off Kilkenny as he slid in to try and block, that touch taking the ball past Rudd into the bottom far corner.

There was a let-off for Preston in the 85th minute when Wagstaff’s cross from the right fell to substitute Tyrone Barnett who lifted a first-time shot over the bar from seven yards.

Bristol City: Fielding, El-Abd (Cunningham 46), Osborne, Nosworthy, Williams, Elliott, Pack, Wagstaff, Emmanuel-Thomas (Barnett 82), Paterson (Burns 72), Baldock. Subs not used: Moloney, Kelly, Pearson, Moore.

PNE: Rudd, Clarke, King, Wright, Humphrey, Welsh (Brownhill 67), Kilkenny, Buchanan, Holmes (Browne 67), Garner, C Davies (K Davies 82). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Keane, Laird, Gallagher.

Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire)

Attendance: 12,537 (755 PNE)