Match report: PNE 0 Cardiff City 0

PNE v Cardiff
PNE v Cardiff
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Preston North End shared the spoils with Cardiff City in a goalless draw at Deepdale.

A drab first-half gave way to a better game in the second period, both teams having chances to break the deadlock and win the game.

PNE goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made two good saves to thwart the Bluebirds, the second of those from Peter Whittingham’s free-kick the pick of them.

Tom Clarke saw a header hit the bar at the other end before the skipper was later forced off with a shoulder injury.

Both teams wore black armbands in memory of Howard Kendall and Tommy Thompson, with a minute’s silence impeccably observed before kick-off.

The point lifted North End off the foot of the table, a position they had slipped to on Friday night after Bristol City’s win over Nottingham Forest.

They now have Bolton and Rotherham below them on goal difference

North End manager Simon Grayson had made three changes to the starting XI

There was a first PNE league start for Jordan Hugill up front, with Paul Gallagher and Bailey Wright retuning to the side after injury and suspension respectively.

Hugill replaced Will Keane up front, partnering Stevie May.

Gallagher came in for Alan Browne who was surprisingly left out, with Wright taking over from the injured Paddy McCarthy in the centre of defence.

North End were without Eoin Doyle who was ineligible to play against his parent club, with Joe Garner serving the second of a three-match suspension.

Second-year scholar Clive Smith got a place on the bench.

Inside the opening two minutes, a Greg Cunningham cross from the left-wing found Hugill but he could only cushion a side-foot volley wide of the near post.

The first-half lacked goalmouth incident, much of the play coming between the boxes.

Pickford had to dash off his line and spread himself to gather the ball ahead of Joe Mason as the Cardiff striker looked to get on the end of a Whittingham pass.

Just beyond the half-hour mark, Adam Reach’s cross from the right picked out May who swept an effort across goal and wide of the far post.

Hugill stole in behind the Cardiff defence to get his head to Daniel Johnson’s curling cross but his effort was straight at Bluebirds keeper David Marshall.

It needed a fine sliding block from Clarke to stop Mason getting a shot away after Whittingham’s low cross had picked him out eight yards out.

The best effort of the first period came from Gallagher, the midfielder turning into space 25 yards out and letting fly with a shot which clipped off the head of Sean Morrison and flew inches over the bar.

Gallagher took the resulting corner which Wright headed over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box.

Johnson was off target with two shots as the interval approached.

There were chances for both sides in the opening five minutes of the second half, Anthony Pilkington putting a header wide in the 49th minute.

Then a cross from Gallagher looked destined to find May before it took a touch off Matthew Connolly.

Sammy Ameobi lifted a shot over the bar, then Joe Mason got clear down the right hand side of the box and forced Pickford into a diving save.

In the 58th minute, Clarke got on the end of a Gallagher corner but saw his header hit the bar and go over.

North End made a double change, replacing May and John Welsh with Will Keane and Browne.

Soon after, they had to make an enforced switch, Clarke going off with a shoulder injury and being replaced by Marnick Vermijl.

Cardiff had a spell of pressure after Clarke’s exit, a 78th minute skirmish in the box seeing Calum Woods and Vermijl both getting in vital blocks.

Pickford made a fine save to get a glove to Whittingham’s well-struck free-kick down by the foot of the post.

North End finished the game on the attack, Johnson shooting wide from 12 yards when he should have done better.

Then in stoppage-time, Hugill met a Cunningham cross but looped a header over the bar.

PNE: Pickford, Woods, Clarke (Vermijl 71), Wright, Cunningham, Gallagher, Welsh (Browne 69), Johnson, Reach, May (Keane 69), Hugill. Subs not used: Kilkenny, Brownhill, Smith, Kirkland.

Cardiff: Marshall, Peltier, Morrison, Connolly, Malone, Pilkington (Revell 76), Dikgacoi, Whittingham, Ralls (Noone 46), Mason, Ameobi (John 90). Subs not used: Gunnarsson, Tamas, O’Keefe, Moore.

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Attendance: 11,125 (549 away)