John Roper’s PNE Fans’ Panel verdict: Probably a fair result but a chance missed
A solid point for North End at Ashton Gate and a first point away from Deepdale in the league this season.
A tight defensive show helped PNE keep the Robins out at one end but the crossbar and poor finishing saw the visitors come back up the M5 with nothing to show for their afternoon’s work.
We had the best of the first half but the nearest we came was Sean Maguire hitting the crossbar, whilst at the other end, Iversen was only really called upon once to keep out a long-range shot superbly diving to his left.
After the break the home side had more of the ball but, again, apart from two good saves from Iversen, the hosts didn’t really look like making the late pressure tell.
Emil Riis had a great chance to win the game for North End in front of the 753 North End fans who made the trip to BS3 but on this occasion his finishing let him down as did Preston’s generally for most of the afternoon.
Frankie McAvoy kept faith with those on duty for the 3-1 win against Swansea a fortnight ago with newcomers Ali McCann and Josh Murphy having to settle for a place on the bench. North End started the game well with the link-up play being as good as it has been all season.
In the early part of the game Maguire had a decent chance and Van den Berg shot wide from a very advanced position as PNE took the game to the visitors.
Atkinson had a long-range shot well saved by Iversen which was City’s best effort, but it was North End who looked the more likely and Sean Maguire hit the bar with a shot as North End pressed forward.
No changes for Preston at half-time but a change in tactics from Nigel Pearson for the home side as they started to play the ball through the middle of the park, much more than they did in the first half.
Massengo was the main threat from the Robins and Iversen saved when he was allowed to run way too far without being challenged to get a shot in. Riis flashed a shot over for North End but it took the visitors a while to combat the Robins’ change of tactics.
With 73 minutes on the clock McCann and Browne were brought on for Ledson and Riis and to be honest I thought we lost some of our attacking threat from this point on. Murphy was introduced for Johnson late on but it was the home side who finished the strongest.
Hand on heart if our finishing had been better I think we would have taken three points from this game but on the balance of play you have to say a draw was a fair result in the end.
Plenty of positives in this display with Iversen, Van den Berg and Johnson being the stand-out three for me.
This defensive unit is really beginning to evolve under the fatherly guidance of Patrick Bauer with Van Den Berg, Storey and Josh Earl all improving as the weeks go by.
In midfield Johnson was linking the ball up well particularly to Maguire. A decent draw then for North End but I think a much stiffer task awaits at Bramall Lane.