Sam at heart of the action

Bailey Wright clears after Sam Johnstone had  saved Aaron Wilbraham's first-half chance
Bailey Wright clears after Sam Johnstone had saved Aaron Wilbraham's first-half chance
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  • Preston goalkeeper Sam Johnstone makes three good saves
  • Bristol manager Steve Cotterill praises North End No.1
  • Johnstone believes draw was right result
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Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone enjoyed being in the thick of the action as Preston and Bristol City shared a draw in League One’s big game

But the 22-year-old would be even happier to have quieter games between now and the end of the season as North End bid for automatic promotion.

I would prefer to have a bit less to do and see the ball up at the other end of the pitch.

Leaders City kept him busy in the 1-1 draw, Johnstone making three good saves as well as having to deal with a number of set-pieces played into the box.

Jermaine Beckford put PNE ahead in the 59th minute with a close-range finish, only for Aaron Wilbraham to head the Robins level four minutes later.

It was Wilbraham who had earlier been twice denied by Johnstone’s reaction saves.

Johnstone, on loan from Manchester United, told the Evening Post: “The one in the first half was tricky.

“The cross got a touch on it to start with which I started to react to.

“Then Wilbraham flicked it again which meant I had to change position and react to that.

“I got my glove to it and then Bailey Wright was on hand to kick it away.

“The one which I pushed against the bar was at a nice height to be fair.

“I would have preferred to have tipped it over the bar so we could have got organised for the corner.

“As it was, the ball came off the bar and bounced around a bit before we got it clear.

“While it is always nice to make saves and play well, I would prefer to have a bit less to do and see the ball up at the other end of the pitch.”

Although the busier of the two keepers – enough to win the sponsors’ man of the match award – Johnstone felt that overall, a 1-1 draw was a fair outcome.

After a slightly nervy start, North End got stronger with Beckford going close with an overhead kick.

They created a couple of other decent opportunities before Beckford’s 59th minute opener from a Paul Gallagher pass.

Said Johnstone: “I think a draw was the right result.

“The lads worked hard in what we knew was going to be a tough game.

“In the dressing room, the lads were a bit gutted because we conceded after going 1-0 ahead.

“That said, we didn’t lose and stretched our unbeaten run in the league.

“Bristol City are a very good team as their league position suggests.

“For spell I thought we matched them, although at times we got a bit sloppy which gave me things to do.

“Had we won, I think we could have gone on and caught Bristol City up.

“The important thing now is to get ourselves ready for the games on Tuesday and Friday this week.”

Johnstone earned praise from Robins manager Steve Cotterill.

“I think we deserved to win the game in the end, their keeper got man of the match and that tells its own tale,” said Cotterill.

“He pulled off magnificent saves from Aaron Wilbraham and Kieran Agard.

“How he’s kept those out I’ll never know and I thought he was magnificent.

“It was a really good game. We wanted to win, as we have set up to do so every game this season.

You can get caught out being too cavalier but that’s how we’ve played all season and we’re not going to change now.”