Cardiff City 0 Preston North End 0 match report: Stalemate for PNE in South Wales

Preston North End had to settle for a goalless draw with Cardiff City.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 12th March 2022, 5:30 pm

They had the chances to win it as the game opened up in the second half, Daniel Johnson seeing a shot smothered by Cardiff goalkeeper Alex Smithies at close quarters.

Alan Browne then slipped as he met a rebound from a Cameron Archer shot, the skipper’s close-range effort going wide.

However, it did need two saves from Daniel Iversen late on at the other end to keep it at 0-0, the PNE keeper twice denying Bluebirds substitute Uche Ikpeazu – the first of those made at full stretch.

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Over the course of the game North End had plenty of the ball but in the second half especially, found themselves up against a wall of blue as the hosts put men behind the ball.

A little bit of craft was missing in and around the edge of the box, although it was found for Johnson’s and Browne’s late chances.

On reflection though, a point should not be sniffed at, the Cardiff City Stadium not a ground where they’ve had too much joy down the years.

They were beaten here in the FA Cup in January, with the Welsh side winning at Deepdale in the reverse fixture in November.

Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson sees a shot saved by Cardiff City goalkeeper Alex Smithies

Bambo Diaby and Ben Whiteman were two players to really catch the eye for North End, although Ikpeazu did get the measure of Diaby for his two chances late on.

The North End side had shown to changes to the one which started last week’s win against Bournemouth, Emil Riis and Liam Lindsay coming into the starting XI.

Ched Evans dropped to the bench, with Josh Earl not making the squad because of a shoulder injury.

There were returns among the substitutes after injury for Patrick Bauer and Sean Maguire.

PNE midfielder Daniel Johnson has a shot blocked by Cardiff's Ryan Wintle

Lindsay played on the left side of the back three, with Diaby in the middle and Sepp van den Berg on the right.

Andrew Hughes moved out of the middle to fill the left wing-back vacancy.

It took a while for the game to get going, in fact the first half didn’t exactly catch fire throughout.

The home side saw more of the ball in the first 15 minutes or so before North End got a foothold and began to look the more threatening side.

In the 25th minute, Brad Potts made a good run down the right and passed the ball inside to Johnson on the edge of the box.

Johnson’s shot hit a defender and looped up into the air, Andrew Hughes nodded it down and Riis went to ground as the ball was cleared.

Potts’ low shot went straight through to Smithies.

Towards the end of the half Diaby blocked a shot from Jordan Hugill, then soon after Diaby’s clearing header was picked up by Alfie Doughty 20 yards out, his shot clearing the bar by some distance.

Five minutes into the second half, Johnson sprang the Cardiff offside trap down the left and rolled a low cross into the goalmouth which no one took a gamble to get on the end of.

Ali McCann replaced the injured Lindsay in the 57th minute, Hughes moving into the back three and McCann operating at left wing-back.

Just after the substitution, Archer got room down the left side of the box and had a low shot which deflected wide of the near post off a Cardiff defender.

North End were close to breaking the deadlock in the 74th minute as Browne’s cross was headed clear to the edge of the area.

Johnson intercepted, dodged a couple of challenges to get sight of goal but saw Smithies block his shot at close quarters.

An even better chance came their way seven minutes later as PNE camped in and around the Cardiff box.

A shot from Riis was blocked and fell to Archer who turned and fired an effort goalwards. It came back off the keeper and fell to Browne in the six-yard box who slipped as he hit it and the rebound went wide.

Daniel Iversen was tested for the first time in the 83rd minute, Ikpeazu giving Diaby the slip on the edge of the box and curling a shot goalwards.

The PNE keeper dived and stretched out his right glove to tip the ball beyond the far post.

Scott Sinclair replaced Riis up front in a last throw of the attacking dice by North End manager Ryan Lowe.

Iversen saved from the same player again with two minutes of regulation time remaining, pushing Ikpeuzu’s shot past the near post and behind for a corner.

Former North End striker Hugill had the ball in the net in stoppage-time but the referee’s whistle had already gone for an infringement.

In stoppage-time, Browne pulled up and had to limp off, Joe Rafferty coming off the bench to replace him. Rafferty went into the left wing-back slot, with McCann taking the skipper’s place in midfield.

Cardiff: Smithies, Ng, Flint, McGuinness, Drameh, Doyle (Colwill 61), Wintle, Ralls, Doughty (Bagan 81), Davies (Ikpeazu 61), Hugill. Subs: Phillips, Vaulks, Harris, Denham.

PNE: Iversen, Van den Berg, Diaby, Lindsay (McCann 57), Whiteman, Potts, Browne (Rafferty 90), Johnson, Hughes, Riis (SInclair 85), Archer. Subs: Ripley, Bauer, Maguire, Evans.

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Attendance: 19,743