The 4 talking points from Preston North End's 1-1 draw with Bristol City

PReston North End finished their 2019/20 season with a 1-1 draw with Bristol City.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 8:00 am

Sean Maguire ended his goal drought in the first half, confidently collecting Daniel Johnson's backheel before lifting the ball over a planted Dan Bentley.

City got themselves back in it through Famara Diedhiou, turning home a Jamie Paterson cross.

As the curtain closes on PNE's 2019/20 campaign - albeit much later than expected - here are four talking points from Wednesday night's game.

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Daniel Johnson in action at Ashton Gate.

1. Maguire finds the net.

Much has been said about the top end of the PNE pitch, with central strikers simply not finding the net regularly enough and the midfield doing more than their share.

The way that Sean Maguire took his goal at Ashton Gate did not represent a player lacking in confidence nor the ability to know where the net is.

The Irishman has been adamant throughout his goal drought that although he may not have been scoring goals, he was a goal scorer.

He had been involved in 24 games without finding the net, his 25th, against the Robins, ending his dry spell.

Despite desperate form in front of goal, he took his strike with composure and elegance.

He looked much more like a man with 20 goals under his belt this season, nonchalantly adding to his tally.

That shows the potential that is in Maguire, that he has those sorts of goals in his locker.

He was prolific in Ireland and the standards are not comparable, but a goal scorer is a goal scorer, he knows how to go on scoring streaks, what it's like feeling like you're unplayable and he's shown quality in the Championship in the past.

Hopefully the goal in Bristol is a sign of things to come for next season, as PNE certainly need a leading frontman.

2. Tom Bayliss getting minutes.

Tom Bayliss made a rare appearance with around 15 minutes to go, replacing Paul Gallagher in the middle of midfield.

The young talent has been much sought after by PNE fans but has struggled to make the bench lately.

Alex Neil had praise for the former Coventry man, though contrary to a lot of opinions, Neil thinks his main strengths lie in running beyond.

He noted that he is a very accomplished passer of the ball and keeps things moving, but perhaps a more box to box role may be in mind for him, rather than just being a like for like replacement for Gallagher.

Either way, the 21-year-old could be in line for a big campaign next time out, or at least that's what his manager is hoping for him.

3. What might have been.

With so much going on on the final day - everywhere but at Ashton Gate - if nothing else it showed what was at stake even by taking it to the final game.

A six goal swing saw Nottingham Forest fall out fo the play-offs from fifth place, and but for a result here or there, or even a goal here or there, it could have easily been PNE capitalising on their error.

That is also the case for multiple teams in the division, but having been top of the table and looking in a good position pre-lockdown, it was there for the taking for Preston.

No one will be hurting more than the players and the staff, but it does at the very least show what is capable at Preston North End.

Despite all the riches in the division, North End have finished above around a dozen sides that have spent more than them.

No matter what is said about the club's investment, it is still a very good effort to finish in eighth place.

Has post-lockdown results - just two wins - been better, who knows?

4. A big summer lies ahead.

It's said almost every year but it really does have the do or die feel this summer.

It arguably may have felt a bit that way in January but the pandemic may have helped in that regard, it may have given PNE a greater chance of tying down some of their talent.

A host of players' contracts are running out in just a year's time, many of them key players like Ben Pearson, Ben Davies, Alan Browne and player of the year Daniel Johnson.

If those players can get deals that keep them at the club more long-term, it could be a huge signal of intent to those outside of PR1.

There will be moves made in the window but it may be just as important retain the current crop.

If Alex Neil can keep hold of his core and add in the key areas required, it may just be the tonic needed to crack the top six.

Only time will tell what the lay of the land is in a post-pandemic transfer market but there is so much potential in this Preston squad, should the window go as they would like.