MATCH REPORT: PNE 1 Bristol City 1

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Neil Kilkenny’s superb curling strike was upstaged by a late Bristol City fight back as PNE drew 1-1 at Deepdale.

North End striker Joe Garner hit the woodwork once again as his long range effort crashed into the bar in the first half.

But it was Kilkenny who produced a moment of magic to open the scoring. The midfielder punished his former club and showed what he can do as he unleashed a terrific 25-yard curler that flew into the top right corner in the 50th minute.

PNE keeper and man-of-the-match Jordan Pickford pulled off some fantastic saves to deny City.

But the North End shot-stopper had no chance of stopping Aaron Wilbraham’s header as the City captain pounced on Luke Freeman’s cross and nodded the ball home with some power to equalise.

North End were lucky not to make it four consecutive defeats in a row as Freeman wasted a golden opportunity in the dying stages.

But fortunately for PNE the midfielder nodded way over after ghosting into the box unmarked.

Simon Grayson made two changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Derby on Saturday.

Deadline day signing Stevie May made his first start for the club as Will Keane moved to the bench.

Chris Humphrey also returned to the starting XI in place of Marnick Vermijl.

And it was Humphrey who made the first attempt on goal.

The winger was teed-up by Kilkenny and sprinted through on the right but the angle was too tight and he fired way wide of the left post.

Moments later Luke Freeman’s fierce shot was tipped wide by Pickford’s arm in the eighth minute.

Daniel Johnson’s shot from distance flew way wide as PNE dominated but failed to really test Frank Fielding’s goal.

City’s Jonathan Kodjia unleashed a fierce strike from just inside the box but luckily for North End it gained a big deflection off Paul Huntington and fizzed wide.

Derrick Williams played a neat one two before sliding the ball across the six yard box into the path of an on-running Aaron Wilbraham. Fortunately for PNE Bailey Wright got to the ball first but picked up a knock for his trouble.

Korey Smith fired the ball across the box in the 40th minute but Wright was on hand to throw himself at the danger once again and clear the ball.

May and Cunningham honed in on goal after some some slick link-up play on the left but Cunningham’s shot from a tight angle was deflected into the side netting.

May’s curling shot was deflected wide and up the other end Luke Freeman’s shot was tipped wide by Pickford.

And Garner rattled the woodwork just before half time as his thunderous 25-yard strike crashed into the bar leaving the striker to collapse to the ground after being foiled by the woodwork for the second time in as many games.

May and Johnson combined sublimely on the left and Johnson stole into space and smashed the ball towards goal but Fielding managed to get a leg to the ball and divert the ball away.

But North End rippled the back of the net just seconds later as Bristol failed to clear the ball and Kilkenny unleashed an absolute peach of a shot that flew into the top right corner in the 50th minute.

Wilbraham picked the ball up unmarked on the right of the box and his rising shot was tipped over by Pickford.

Korey Smith’s header appeared to brush Cunningham’s arm in the box but PNE were let off as Smith’s penalty appeal was ignored.

Freeman’s shot was deflected wide in the 65th minute.

City sub Mark Little should have equalised when he snuck behind PNE’s defence and latched onto the ball just four yards out on the right. But with only Pickford to beat he messed up his angle and fired the ball way wide of the far post.

Kilkenny tried his luck from distance again but this time the ball trickled out wide.

And Kilkenny was in the action moments later as he found May in space in the centre and the striker’s low 25-yard strike just fizzed wide of the left post.

But Bristol fought back and captain Wilbraham nearly broke the net with a powerful header as he pounced and emphatically nodded Freeman’s cross home in the 81st minute.

Pickford pulled off a brilliant finger-tip save to just push unmarked City substitute Agard’s shot away from goal.

And City should have taken all three points in stoppage time as Freeman ghosted into the box unmarked but he nodded the ball over the bar.

Cunningham latched onto substitute Alan Browne’s cross and forced Fielding into a fine save as his header was tipped away from goal.

PNE: Pickford, Clarke, Wright, Huntington, Humphrey (Doyle, 72), Kilkenny (Browne, 85), Johnson, Welsh, Cunningham, Garner, May (Keane, 85). Subs not used: Kirkland, Vermijl, Woods, Brownhill.

Bristol City: Fielding, Flint, Ayling, Smith, Freeman, Moore (Little, 65), Baker (Williams, 14), Wilbraham, Pack, Kodjia (Agard, 87), Bryan. Subs not used: Hamer, Robinson, Wagstaff, Reid.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear)

Attendance: 9,963