Birmingham City 0 Preston North End 0 match report: Stalemate at St Andrew's as PNE record a fourth successive Championship draw
Preston North End drew their fourth Championship game on the spin in a goalless affair against Birmingham City at St Andrew's.
It wasn't a classic game by any stretch of the imagination in the West Midlands sunshine, both sides playing a similar formation and rather cancelling each other out.
The best chances for North End were in the first half, falling the way of Emil Riis, Sean Maguire and Josh Earl
Birmingham weren't exactly full of creativity either, their closest call being a double chance early in the second half when Ben Whiteman cleared off the line after the ball had hit team-mate Andrew Hughes.
Maxime Colin's follow-up effort was parried by North End goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.
It's eight games unbeaten in league and cup for the Lilywhites but in the Championship they need to find that winning feeling again.
North End's starting XI had been unchanged for a fifth Championship game running.
On the bench there were returns for Paul Huntington and Scott Sinclair.
It was Huntington's involvement this season after the centre-half was added to PNE's 25-man squad registered with the EFL for leagues games.
The game began at a frantic pace with good chances to break the deadlock coming ay both ends.
In the fifth minute, Riis got caught in possession as he tried to run the ball out of play, Tahith Chong sending over a a cross which Troy Deeney met, his diving header hitting the angle of post and bar before going over.
At the other end, Maguire charged down goalkeeper Matija Sarkic's attempted clearance and saw the ball loop just over the bar and land on the top of the net.
Iversen saved well with his feet from Chong's shot after the on-loan Manchester United winger had weaved his way into the box and into a shooting position.
A second PNE chance saw Riis' pass playing in Earl on the left hand side of the box.
Left wing-back Earl, making his 50th appearance in a Preston shirt, took a touch before getting a low shot away which Sarkic dived to push past the post.
Jordan Storey and Hughes combined to get in the way of Scott Hogan's scissor kick from a Deeney cross.
Two chances fell North End's way a couple of minutes apart as the clock ticked past the half-hour mark.
In the 32nd minute, Blues skipper Harlee Dean dodged past the challenge of Daniel Johnson as he brought the ball out from the back.
But Dean then stumbled, Johnson taking the ball off him before playing the ball into the box.
Riis chased it but a defender slid in to take it away from the Danish striker.
Sepp van den Berg's slid a through ball in for Riis two minutes later but he slightly scuffed his shot and keeper Sarkic saved with his legs.
In the last few minutes of the first half, both teams had a player booked. Patrick Bauer has his name taken for tripping Hogan, then Jeremie Bela got a yellow card after bringing down Johnson.
North End forced three corners in the first two minutes of the second half without them coming to anything.
Such wasteful was almost punished in the 49th minute when the ball deflected off Hughes towards his own net, Whiteman clearing off the line.
The ball fell to Maxime Colin, his shot parried by Iversen before the danger was cleared.
As the second half went on it became an untidy affair with little pattern. Both sides made double substitutions, North End bringing on Josh Murphy and Ali McCann in the 70th minute for Maguire and Whiteman.
But the closing stages went by without any chances of note in either box, - just skirmishes with the defences largely on top.
Birmingham: Sarkic, Colin, Sanderson, Dean, Friend, Chong, Sunjic, Woods, Bela, Deeney (Jutkiewicz 67), Hogan (Aneke 67). Subs (not used): McGree, Graham, Chang, Oakley, Trueman
PNE: Iversen, Storey, Bauer, Hughes, van den Berg, Whiteman (McCann 70), Ledson, Earl, Johnson (Potts 88), Maguire (Murphy 70), Riis. Subs (not used): Cunningham, Huntington, Sinclair, Rudd.
Referee: Matthew Donohue (Manchester)
Attendance: 14,925 (1,188 PNE)
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