Match report: PNE 0 Brighton 0

Preston North End and Brighton battled out a goalless draw in their clash at Deepdale.

Saturday, 5th March 2016, 1:29 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 5:41 pm
PNE v Brighton

It was the fourth consecutive 0-0 draw between the sides, the better chances in the game falling to North End in the second half.

The closest they went to breaking the stalemate was a Calum Woods volley which was pushed on to the underside of the bar by Albion keeper David Stockdale in the 55th minute.

A draw was probably a fair result, Brighton having had more of the play in the first half before PNE were the better side in the second.

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North End had given a first appearance in the league to goalkeeper Chris Kirkland after s stomach bug ruled out Anders Lindegaard.

He in general had a quiet game, making a save in the second half from Jamie Murphy.

Kirkland's only previous start for North End had come in the FA Cup at Peterborough in January.

His inclusion was the only change to the starting XI made to the side which had lost at Cardiff City last Saturday.

PNE boss Simon Grayson stuck with the 10 outfield players who started in Wales and also with the 3-5-2 system.

North End had the game's first sight of goal, Adam Reach firing a low shot from 20 yards across goal and just wide of the far post with 70 seconds played.

At the other end, Murphy cut inside from the left-wing and drove a shot over Kirkland's bar.

Tom Clarke was booked in the 10th minute for blocking Tomer Hemed 25 yards out, Anthony Knockaert's resulting free-kick going too high.

It took North End a while to get themselves a foothold in the contest but as the first half went on, they began to impose themselves more.

Huntington sent a header straight at Stockdale after meeting Paul Gallagher's corner but the whistle went against the centre-half for a push.

Seven minutes before the interval, Alan Browne drove forward but rather than shoot as he reached the edge of the box, chose to pass to Woods on the outside.

Woods came inside into the box but his touch was heavy and he was closed down by the Seagulls defence.

Murphy had the ball in the net in first-half stoppage time but the flag had already gone up against the Brighton winger and the effort was ruled out.

In the opening 90 seconds of the second half, Brighton midfielder Baram Kayal lifted a first-time shot from 20 yards over the bar and into the Town End.

That gave way to a strong spell of pressure from North End in which they threatened the visitors' goal on five occasions in the space of six minutes.

Reach got away down the left-wing as PNE attacked on the break, his cross destined to fall into Joe Garner's path until it clipped off a Brighton leg and went beyond him.

A shot from just inside the box by Garner from Browne's lay-off, deflected off Lewis Dunk and looped over the bar for a corner.

Soon after, a Gallagher corner was won in the air by Huntington, his looping header clawed away by the keeper near to the post.

In the 55th minute, North End were the width of the woodwork away from breaking the deadlock.

Reach got down the left and put over a centre which travelled across to the far side of the box into the path of Woods.

The right wing-back met it on the volley, his effort crashing against the underside of the bar after Stockdale got a touch, with it bouncing down before being cleared.

Preston kept the pressure on, Greg Cunningham's cross finding Garner who sent a header too close to Stockdale who gathered comfortably.

A stray pass in midfield from Reach played the home side into danger in the 65th minute, Brighton working the ball forward on the counter-attack to Murphy whose shot was pushed behind by Kirkland diving to his left.

North End responded to that let-off by creating another chance of their own, Woods' left-footed cross from the right coming at pace into the box with Garner getting a touch but putting it wide of the far post.

Gallagher fired over the bar, then Cunningham saw a shot charged down with the ball looping up into the air and claimed by Stockdale.

In the 82nd minute, Callum Robinson came off the bench to replace Cunningham, the change seeing Reach move into Cunningham's wing-back slot with Robinson going up front next to Garner.

With four minutes remaining, a low shot from Liam Rosenior was spilled by Kirkland but the flag went up for offside against Hemed as he tapped in the rebound.

PNE: Kirkland, Clarke, Huntington, Wright, Woods, Browne, Gallagher, Johnson (Hugill 90), Cunningham (Robinson 81), Reach, Garner (Doyle 88). Subs (not used): Vermijl, Pearson, Welsh, Hudson.

Brighton: Stockdale, Bruno, Goldson, Dunk, Rosenior, Knockaert (Skalak 73), Stephens, Kayal, Murphy, Baldock (Wilson 73), Hemed (Sidwell 89). Subs (not used): Greer, Calderon, Zamora, Sidwell, Maenpaa.

Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)

Attendance: 11,881 (1,126 away)