Dave Seddon’s Big Match Verdict

Striker Jordan Hugill rues a late missed chance to win the game at Deepdale
Striker Jordan Hugill rues a late missed chance to win the game at Deepdale
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Preston kept the Wolves from the door but huffed and puffed themselves in attack, the resulting stalemate their first for eight months.

Simon Grayson was to later admit that DVDs of the game would not be an early shout for a Christmas best seller.

Indeed the PNE boss was right, the only hope of a copy of this one making it under the tree next month being as a panic-buy Secret Santa present.

Jordan Hugill will not want to watch it, having had the chance to deliver three points right at the death.

The game was in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Simon Makienok’s pass played him clear on goal.

His first touch took him into the box, his second took the ball over the bar as former North End keeper Andrew Lonergan flew out to limit Hugill’s options.

With Hugill averaging a goal every two games since being handed a starting role, you would have backed the front man to hit the net and reward an afternoon of toil with three points.

As it was, Hugill was left on his knees and Wolves took a point back home to the Black Country.

Would the Lilywhites have deserved the victory?

You would argue they had the better chances in a game of few clear-cut openings.

Aside from Hugill’s miss, Makienok put a header inches over the Town End bar, with Paul Gallagher also clearing the same piece of timber by a similar distance.

They could also present a rejected shout for a penalty as further evidence of deserving to take the points – more of that one later.

Wolves came to contain, press and frustrate, their new head coach Paul Lambert wanting to start off his tenure on a positive note.

What played on my mind in the build-up to the game and also during it, was that almost a year ago to the day, Lambert had come here for his first game in charge of Blackburn and won.

Surely lightning would not strike twice?

It was only in the closing stages as the game got stretched that the visitors looked like they could snatch something.

Nouha Dicko had two close-range headers, one which went straight into the gloves of North End keeper Chris Maxwell, the second flashing inches wide of the near post.

Other than that, they were content to play on the counter-attack once they had wrestled possession from their hosts.

Wolves targeted Preston’s flair players, working hard to nullify the threat of Aiden McGeady, Daniel Johnson, Callum Robinson and Paul Gallagher.

The first half was a war of attrition, played for the most part 20 yards either side of the halfway line.

When North End could not find a pathway with their passing, they tried a more direct route up to Hugill.

Until he got company with Makienok’s arrival for the last 32 minutes, Hugill had to fight a lone battle with Wolves’ two centre-halves Kortney Hause and Danny Batth.

They gave him a rough ride and the referee gave the striker pretty much nothing.

That is not strictly accurate, Hugill got a yellow card from referee James Linington for a word out of turn to one of his assistants when play went on after he had got a shove.

Mr Linington, who booked eight players – four from each side – in a game which rarely got out of third gear – earned the wrath of the North End faithful late in the game when he turn a deaf ear to shouts for a penalty.

Marnick Vermijl seemed to get clipped as he attempted to force his way between two defenders.

Whether it was in the same league as the two which were refused in the last home game against Newcastle, I am not so sure.

But where there is blame there is a claim, sadly the Isle of Wight whistler on his first visit to Deepdale was not moved.

The positive to draw from the game was at least North End put another point on the board. In the last nine league games, they have won five, now drawn three and lost just the once.

Grayson’s men are well ahead of where they were at this stage last season – 24 points compared to 17.

Where six of their first 17 games last season ended in goalless draws, this 0-0 was the first in a long while.

Not since Brighton’s visit here on March 5 had one of their games finished goalless.

That is a run of 28 league games – and 32 when you throw in cup matches too.

Preston’s best performers on the day came at the back and you would argue that it was the same for Wolves.

Tom Clarke was solid at the back, the skipper and Bailey Wright up against Icelandic striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.

Alex Baptiste and Greg Cunningham limited Wolves’ supply line down the wings.

Going forward, there was not too much joy for Preston, who started in a 4-1-4-1.

Gallagher played in the deep role, Ben Pearson and DJ in the middle of the four with McGeady and Robinson wide.

When a calf strain forced Gallagher off, Makienok came on to join Hugill in a 4-4-2.

Makienok should have scored in the 74th minute but put a header a couple of inches too high after meeting a fine cross from Baptiste.

The Dane turned supplier in the fifth minute of added-on time, seizing on a misplaced header from Hause to release Hugill on goal.

Hugill’s shot ended up on the second row of the Town End – a last chance of victory gone.

PLAYER RATINGS:

Chris Maxwell 7

Only one shot to save all game but the Welshman played the sweeper-keeper role very well.

Alex Baptiste 7

Steady game at right-back, preventing Wolves offering much down that side.Good cross for Makienok’s chance.

Tom Clarke 8

Good battle against Icelandic front man Bodvarsson, helped limit the visitors to very few openings.

Bailey wright 7

The Aussie made his 200th appearance in a Preston shirt and produced a solid display in the middle.

Greg Cunningham 8

Got up and down the left side very well and played a big part in the clean sheet, got in some timely challenges.

Paul Gallagher 6

Played in a deep role behind the midfield two and did not see too much of the ball. Went close with a second-half shot.

Aiden McGeady 6

Saw the odd sparkle from the winger and put in a couple of good crosses but did not make a big impact.

Ben Pearson 7

Plenty of industry and pressing in the midfield but was not able to make a huge impression further up the pitch.

Daniel Johnson 6

Like most of his team-mates going forward, struggled for creativity and got smothered by the Wolves midfield.

Callum Robinson 6

Used wide on the left, Robinson did not have his best of games and looked better coming inside.

Jordan Hugill 6

Had a tough afternoon against Wolves’ two centre-backs and missed a golden chance in stoppage time.

Subs used:

Simon Makienok 7

Replaced Gallagher before the hour and made a decent impact, although should have put his header on target.

Marnick Vermijl 7

Added pace when he came on and is pressing for a start. Had a decent shout for a penalty.

Subs not used: Eoin Doyle, Liam Grimshaw, Tommy Spurr, Paul Huntington, Anders Lindegaard.

WOLVES: Lonergan, Iorfa, Hause, Batth, Doherty, Price (Cavaleiro 87), Coady, Costa (Dicko 78), Enobakhare (Wallace 64), Saville, Bodvarsson. Subs (not used): Stearman, Teixeira, Saiss, Flatt.

REFEREE: James Linington 5

ATTENDANCE: 12,863 (2,300 away)