Reporter Adam Lord takes a closer look at the stalemate at Deepdale on Saturday.
Teams are starting to respect PNE
So often tagged as underdogs, or written off in games against the Championship’s bigger clubs, it looks like some people might be starting to take note of Preston North End and their form at Deepdale. Wolves, in Paul Lambert’s first game in charge, were set up to frustrate and they did just that as they picked up a welcome point. This is game that won’t live long in the memory, all involved will admit that. Chances were few and far between and referee James Linington did his best to spoil what was a scrappy game in at times atrocious weather. PNE will still get their chance to counter attack on the road but at home if more teams come to be more solid than expansive then a change of approach might be needed over time. The reality is though, late chances meant this probably should have been three points all the same.
Referees aren’t keen on awarding penalties at Deepdale
The best of those chances fell to Simon Makienok, a header where he should have at least tested the returning Andrew Lonergan, and Jordan Hugill, who could have wrapped up the points in the fifth minute of stoppage time only to fire over when in on goal. Another could have come from the penalty spot when Marnick Vermijl appeared to be bundled over after getting between two defenders. Referee Linington wasn’t interested though as PNE saw another late appeal for a spot kick waved away having suffered a similar fate against Newcastle. It completed a poor day for the official but surely North End’s penalty luck will change soon?
Jordan Hugill will battle from first whistle to last
Hugill will be the first to know that he should have taken his chance late on. Capitalising on a slip from Kortney Hause, a heavy touch allowed Lonergan to race out, the PNE front man ultimately lifting his shot over the bar. It’s been a fine season thus far though for Hugill who has impressively emerged to fill the void left by Joe Garner’s move to Rangers and Jermaine Beckford’s injuries. Saturday was a tough day even before the late chance. Often having to occupy both Hause and his defensive partner Danny Batth, Hugill got little change from Lingington, eventually being booked for dissent after his frustrations boiled over towards the end of the first half. He battled on and although the game didn’t get the finish he and most of Deepdale wanted he proved yet again what a willing runner he is for the cause.
Defence continues to be a real strength
While the front men will rue missed chances the PNE defensive unit had another good day again. It is clear to see how the back four have been boosted by Chris Maxwell’s mobility behind them. The stopper is the modern ‘sweeper-keeper’ and interviewing various members of the defence over the last few weeks it is clear how their confidence is only increasing. Maxwell may be the one that grabs attention as he heads clear 20 yards from his goal but those in front are in fine fettle too. Tom Clarke was named man of the match but full backs Greg Cunningham and Alex Baptiste, who so nearly laid on a goal for Makienok, had good days too. A special mention for Bailey Wright too who was as solid as ever on his 200th PNE appearance.
Paul Lambert will bring some solidity to Wolves
Walter Zenga always looked an odd appointment at Wolves. The former Italy goalkeeper had had a nomadic managerial career which last saw him in charge of Al-Shaab in the UAE. Surely not a great fit for the Championship? Just four league wins and less than three months after getting the job it was curtains. It wasn’t a great start for the Fosun group after their takeover and they’ve now gone down a different track, bringing in proven experience of the second tier of English football. It was a decent start for Lambert on Saturday, a first clean sheet in two months and a resolute display certainly something that can be built on.