Match report: PNE 1 Burton Albion 1

PNE v Burton
PNE v Burton
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Preston North End were left frustrated as they were held to a draw by Burton Albion at Deepdale.

The Lilywhites played second fiddle to the Brewers for the first half hour, the visitors deserving of the lead given to them by Jackson Irvine in the 23rd minute.

But an improvement in the run-up to the interval saw North End begin to threaten and then equalise in first-half stoppage-time.

Callum Robinson claimed the leveller, forcing the ball over the line from a Greg Cunningham cross after PNE had worked the ball well across the pitch.

In the second half it was the hosts who bossed the play but they lacked the spark in the final third to find a winner.

Their best spell came in the opening quarter of an hour after the interval, with Alex Baptiste, Robinson, Tom Clarke and Aiden McGeady having chances.

A calf injury had sidelined Paul Gallagher, with Marnick Vermijl coming into the starting XI after impressive performances as a substitute in the last three games.

It was Vermijl's first start since the middle of September after missing five weeks with a hamstring strain.

Alan Browne returned to the bench after serving a three-man suspension for his red card at Newcastle last month, while Ben Pringle was back in the squad after an asthma attack ruled him out of last week's goalless draw with Wolves.

Burton were the side out of the traps quickly and quite frankly dominated the early play with North End looking well off the pace and short of ideas.

The visitors rattled the woodwork inside the opening two minutes. Matt Palmer's corner from the left met by Ben Turner whose header from six yards came back off the underside of the bar.

PNE goalkeeper Chris Maxwell pulled off a wonderful save in the fourth minute, reacting wonderfully to tip a shot from Irvine - which caught a late deflection off Bailey Wright - over the bar.

From the resulting corner, Irvine looped a header too high, while in Burton's next attack, Lucas Akins put a header straight at Maxwell.

Preston's first chance of note came in the 20th minute, McGeady firing over the bar from 20 yards after being played in by Ben Pearson.

Three minutes later, Burton went into the lead and deservedly so on the balance of the play.

Palmer's corner was headed out by Clarke as far as Irvine who fired a low shot on the turn through a crowded goalmouth into the net.

Lloyd Dyer was close to a second Burton goal when he got clear down the left side of the box and fired a shot into the side-netting from a narrow angle.

North End improved in the latter stages of the first half when they got the ball down on the deck and got some rhythm in their passing.

Robinson rode a couple of challenges to get into the box, his low right-foot shot palmed out by keeper John McLaughlin with John Mousinho scrambling the loose ball away from Jordan Hugill.

A fine move on the counter-attack in the 41st minute saw North End break forward from their own half, the ball fed through to Robinson who got clear in the box, only for McLaughlin to block his shot.

The equaliser came in the second-minute of stoppage-time at the end of the first half.

PNE moved the ball well from right to left, Daniel Johnson, Pearson and McGeady all involved, with McGeady rolling a pass out to Greg Cunningham on the left side of the box.

Cunningham drilled a low cross into the six-yard box, Robinson claiming the last touch as the ball pinged around before crossing the line.

North End started the second half strongly, having four chances in the first eight minutes.

Baptiste saw a shot beaten out by McLaughlin, with Robinson then sending a header wide after meeting Wright's chipped cross from the left.

Johnson's corner found Clarke in the 52nd minute, the skipper's header clearing the bar and landing on top of the net.

Then after Wright's cross field diagonal ball had found McGeady on the right-wing, the on-loan winger cut inside and drove a low shot at the keeper who saved.

Just before the hour, a fine PNE move played in Robinson down the side of the box, his low centre travelling across the face of the six-yard box and just evading Jordan Hugill as he slid in.

Pearson's first-time shot from 25 yards whistled inches wide as North End upped the pressure on the visitors.

There was a scare though, when Wright lost his footing in the Burton half in the 69th minute, the visitors broke clear and Maxwell had to save from Dyer as he surged into the box with Baptiste in close attention.

North End kept the pressure on in the closing stages as the visitors put man behind the ball.

But some poor decision-making in some promising positions meant they didn't particularly work the keeper and they were forced to settle for a point for the second week running at home.

PNE: Maxwell, Baptiste, Clarke, Wright, Cunningham, Vermijl (Makienok 69), Pearson, Johnson, McGeady, Robinson, Hugill (Doyle 84). Subs (not used): Huntington, Spurr, Browne, Pringle, Lindegaard.

Burton: McLaughlan, Brayford, Mousinho, Turner, McCrory, Akins, Palmer, Naylor, Dyer, Irvine, O'Grady (Harness 80). Subs (not used): Flanagan, Williamson, Miller, Choudhury, Barker, Bywater.

Referee: Darren Bond (Wigan)

Attendance: 10,696 (445 away)