Four talking points from Preston North End's clash with Birmingham City
Preston North End nudged up to 15th place in the table after the 0-0 draw at St Andrew’s. It is now six league games unbeaten for the Lilywhites and eight overall.
Saturday’s draw would best be put into the ‘battling’ category, both teams going with a 3-4-1-2 system and creativity cancelling one another out.
Any point on the road is not one to turn your nose up at, North End’s focus now on Tuesday night’s Deepdale clash with Stoke City. Here we look at four talking points from the stalemate in the West Midlands.
1. PNE are the darlings of the Pools coupon at the moment, this a fourth draw in a row in Championship action. Draws put points on the board and remaining unbeaten is good for morale.
It was important North End got that run of three losses at the start of the season completely out of the system and that has been done over the last month-and-a-half.
Now we are moving into territory where it’s vital to turn draws into wins.
Winning one if not both of the remaining games ahead of the international break would strengthen their hand considerably. It is the first time PNE have drawn four league games on the bounce since the start of the 2013/14 season.
2. Josh Earl hit his 50 on Saturday, a half-century of appearances in Preston colours.
The left wing-back almost scored his first goal in senior football to mark the occasion, seeing a low shot pushed past the post by Blues keeper Matija Sarkic.
Bearing in mind Earl’s debut came back in August 2017, it has taken him quite a while to reach the 50-game mark. Emil Riis played his 50th game last Tuesday and has not yet been here a year.
It must be remembered Earl has been sent out on loan three times, while he also needed surgery on a knee injury in his first season in the North End squad.
Since being given a start at wing-back in the away game at Huddersfield, he’s cemented his place.
3. The Lilywhites’ strength at Birmingham was in their backline.
Jordan Storey, Patrick Bauer and Andrew Hughes were solid, with Storey the stand-out player.
This was a 30th game in a row for Storey and a 20th on the spin for Hughes, in all those they’ve gone the full 90 minutes. Their main cover at the moment now comes from Paul Huntington after his addition to the squad registered with the EFL.
4. PNE’s midfield was not at its creative best, that as much to do with the type of game it was as individual performances.
Ryan Ledson has joined Ben Whiteman on four yellow cards in the league, one more triggers a ban. Is that point being reached when Frankie McAvoy might consider freshening things up?
Ali McCann has looked good when coming on and when starting in the Carabao Cup.
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