Full-time Portsmouth 0 PNE 0

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Preston North End battled their way to a hard-earned draw against Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

They survived the award of an early penalty against them, Izale McLeod driving the spot kick against the bar.

Joel Byrom and Chris Beardsley came closest to finding the net for North End, skipper Byrom seeing a first-half shot pushed behind by Pompey keeper Simon Eastwood.

And in the second half, Eastwood saved from Beardsley at his near post.

Thorsten Stuckmann made a fine late save from Scott Allan to make sure PNE came away from the south coast with a point.

Graham Westley had made six changes to the North End side.

Jack King, Bailey Wright, David Buchanan, Andy Procter, Byrom and Beardsley came into the starting XI as Westley shuffled the pack after two league defeats in a row.

Making way were Paul Huntington, Nicky Wroe, John Welsh, John Mousinho, Todd Kane and Lee Holmes, although Holmes starting on the bench was due to the winger not being at full fitness after being ill with a sickness bug.

Stuart Beavon, who missed the Crewe game though illness, was included among the substitutes.

Midfielder Byrom was handed the captain’s armband in the absence from the side of Mousinho and Welsh.

An untidy opening to the contest saw North End force a couple of early corners, and from the first of those Pompey caught them on the counter-attack which thankfully by halted by an offside flag.

The hosts were awarded a controversial penalty in the 12th minute when McLeod went to ground as he challenged with Chris Robertson for a ball into the box.

It looked no more than Robertson leaning into the Pompey striker, but the linesman signalled for a penalty and referee Dean Whitestone pointed to the spot.

McLeod picked himself to take it, only to hammer his right-foot effort against the bar with the ball bouncing out to safety.

Byrom and Buchanan both put shots into the crowd as North End looked for a way into the game.

In the 24th minute, Byrom got possession on the right side of the box, beat two defenders and hit a left-foot shot which keeper Eastwood dived to push behind.

Wright went into the book for a foul on Jake Jervis a yard outside the penalty area, the former PNE loan striker driving the resulting free-kick into the defensive wall.

Seven minutes before the interval, Robertson’s low shot clipped off a Pompey defender and behind for a corner.

Then moments later at the other end as the home side countered, Jervis let fly with a drive from distance which Stuckmann pushed behind.

Stuckmann was in the action again in the 42nd minute, diving full length to glove away Scott Allan’s 25-yard shot.

On the stroke of half time, Eastwood made a double save from Byrom and Beardsley, although the flag went up against Beardsley.

North End made a double substitution eight minutes into the second half, Mousinho and Beavon replacing Procter and Anthony Elding.

Beardsley went close to breaking the deadlock, winning possession just outside the box from a misplaced Pompey pass.

He took a touch before hitting a low shot which keeper Eastwood fingertipped past the near post.

The second half developed into a real scrap on a pitch which had cut-up during heavy rain in the opening period.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between in a battle of attrition, Pompey on the main on the front foot with North End content to counter.

As the contest moved into the final stages, a low shot from Mustapha Dumbuya was comfirtably dealt with by Stuckmann.

The German keeper was then called upon to make a much more difficult save to deny Scott Allan, reaching out a glove to push the winger’s angled shot over the bar.

In the 89th minute, King’s right-wing cross was met by Beardsley who looped a header just too high.

Portsmouth: Eastwood, Dumbuya, Rocha, Gyepes, Harley, Ertl, Howard, Russell (Williamson 67), Allan, Jervis (Mendez-Laing 61), McLeod. Unused subs: Walker, Michalik, Harris, Webster, Smith.

PNE: Stuckmann, King, Wright, Robertson, Cansdell-Sherriff, Monakana (Holmes 74), Procter (Mousinho 53), Byrom, Buchanan, Elding (Beavon 53), Beardsley. Unused subs: Amoo, Wroe, Cummins, Simonsen.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Cambridgeshire)