Graham Westley hailed Preston North End’s work ethic as they came away from Carlisle United on Tuesday night with a battling goalless draw.
North End put in a solid show at the back with Thorsten Stuckmann and his defence showing a real resilience at Brunton Park.
While the greater share of chances fell the way of the hosts – now unbeaten in 15 games on their home ground –Westley’s men had scoring opportunities themselves.
The game could have had a much different look to it, had Graham Cummins not squandered a fine chance in the 14th minute.
But there were few complaints from the PNE boss as he reflected on four points gathered from successive away matches.
Westley said: “It was never going to be easy going to Carlisle, they have been in good form and are chasing a play-off slot.
“Carlisle were going to give it everything with a partisan crowd behind them, so we knew what was coming at us.
“We had a lot of young players but they acquitted themselves well. It was a hard-earned point in my book, we showed a good work ethic and it was a creditable performance on the whole.
“We kept another clean sheet which the whole unit worked well to do, while we could easily have won the game with Graham Cummins having an excellent chance, and then their keeper saved very well from Chris Holroyd.
“There were a couple of good opportunites from set-plays too.
“Thorsten Stuckmann played very well and has developed as a keeper. He’s starting to dominate his six-yard box and play on the front foot. But I don’t think we should look at the game and think it is only our goalkeeper who has earned us a draw.
“Stuckmann should deservedly get plaudits but there were others who played just as well. We’ve had two tough away games inside a few days, with a lot of travelling, so I’m pleased with four points.
“Had you offered me a draw before the game, I wouldn’t have taken it because I went to Carlisle to win. But I’ve got to be satisfied with it.”
Injury kept Paul Parry and Danny Mayor out, with Paul Coutts and George Miller coming into the team.
Westley was forced into a first-half change, replacing Daniel Devine with Max Ehmer as he walked a disciplinary tightrope with referee Carl Boyeson.
He was booked early on for dissent, and then got a stern warning for a deliberate handball. Said Westley: “It was a decision which had to be made. Daniel had been booked and I thought the referee made an exceptional decision in not sending him off for the second offence. I don’t think a second yellow was necessary, but some referees might have taken that decision.
“With Lee Miller putting himself about up there, I didn’t want to have to handle that with 10 men. I’ve just told Daniel to learn from the experience and he’ll be fine.”
Westley paid tribute to a sizeable away support who made up a good chunk of the 6.975 crowd.
He added: “It was terrific backing from the fans and I thank them for that.
“They can see what we’re trying to build.”