Dave Seddon’s PNE match verdict

Preston's Jordan Hugill vies for possession with Barnsley's Marc Roberts
Preston's Jordan Hugill vies for possession with Barnsley's Marc Roberts
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When teams from Lancashire and Yorkshire face each other the game inevitably gets the ‘Roses battle’ tag attached by reason of the rivalry which has existed between the red and white rose since the 15th century.

Battle might be too grand a word to use in the context of Preston’s visit to Barnsley, events at Oakwell more of a scrap than anything else.

Simon Makienok challenges Joshn Scowen

Simon Makienok challenges Joshn Scowen

There was not a huge deal of quality, instead it was two evenly-matched sides trying hard but without success to come up with something a bit different to tip things in their favour.

Before kick-off, two points and three places – in the Tykes’ favour – separated the sides.

The gap in terms of league position had whittled down to two places by full-time.

There was little to separate them on the pitch too, both sides matching-up systems and seeing a similar amount of the ball.

Preston North End's Greg Cunningham''at Barnsley

Preston North End's Greg Cunningham''at Barnsley

Both will point to having gone very close to breaking the deadlock in the second half, Barnsley with an effort from Tom Bradshaw which Greg Cunningham cleared off the line, PNE with Jordan Hugill’s late header that Adam Davies produced a fine save from.

If North End had the edge anywhere, it was the clearer openings.

They will reflect on Simon Makienok’s first-half header which he should have put away rather than putting too close to the keeper.

There was a Hugill drive which went just wide, not to mention a foul on Hugill which should have resulted into a penalty.

Preston North End's Jordan Hugill reacts after his header was saved by Barnsley's Adam Davies

Preston North End's Jordan Hugill reacts after his header was saved by Barnsley's Adam Davies

That said, I still didn’t think they did quite enough to win it, nor did the home side who let Chris Maxwell have a quiet time in terms of shot-saving.

You could describe it as usual Championship fare, the centre of midfield a battle ground and the wings an area for any creativity on show.

Ben Pearson and Alan Browne went toe-to-toe with Matty James and Josh Scowen in the middle.

Preston had Aiden McGeady and Paul Gallagher out wide, Barnsley going with Ryan Kent and Marley Watkins down the sides.

It was two 4-4-2s which effectively cancelled one another out.

North End had crossed the Pennines smarting from their midweek defeat at Cardiff.

Any defeat is disappointing but the fact they had not ‘laid a glove on Cardiff’ – the words of Simon Grayson – added to the frustration.

Hence Grayson’s selection on Saturday being designed to pack more of a punch.

Makienok was paired with Hugill in a big man and even bigger man pairing.

Browne’s recall in midfield next to Pearson was done with the intention of not giving much ground in the centre of the pitch.

Their day was more about breaking things up rather than spraying the ball around.

Both were booked, Browne for a foul, Pearson for a word too many out of place.

For the record, Pearson got enough warnings from referee Oliver Langford before he got his 79th minute yellow card.

It was a colourful day for Mr Langford and not because of the five yellows he pulled from his pocket.

He wore black for the first half and changed to pale green in the second to avoid a colour clash with Preston’s dark blue.

On that point, it was nice to see an outing for the blue kit which hasn’t been worn many times this season.

North End’s more solid look worked to the extent that they kept a clean sheet and halted that three-game run of shipping goals in the first half.

The defence worked well as a unit, with Paul Huntington the pick of the bunch for me.

He’d had a poor night at Cardiff but here looked far more commanding.

Tyias Browning was decent at right-back, for me looking more at home than he had done on his debut.

He was being watched by his Everton Under-23s boss David Unsworth and Joe Royle, the pair also there to run the rule over another young player they had loaned out – Barnsley’s right-back Gethin Jones.

A word for Cunningham too, head bandaged in the style of Basil Fawlty for more than an hour after being cut in a first-half challenge.

The Irishman battled on and produced the clearance off the line from Bradshaw.

At the other end of the pitch, the impact of Makienok was quite as they would have wanted.

Aside from the header he should have scored with, he was well contained by Angus MacDonald.

Hugill in contrast, looked a threat and in a nutshell was typical Hugill.

This was the first time this season that North End had gone two league games on the bounce without scoring.

Those games coming on deadline day and in the days after, is probably not the best timing when fans desperately wanted to see a striker added to the ranks in January.

It will be interesting to see what Grayson goes for at the weekend when Brentford are in town.

Does he restore Callum Robinson alongside Hugill, or give Jermaine Beckford – a substitute in this one – a start?

Will Stevie May, back on the bench at Oakwell, get his chance at some stage?

The order to snap-out of the slow starts, looked to hit home when Hugill charged down a clearance inside 30 seconds and got away down the left channel.

There were not too many chances for a repeat of the first-half giveaways which we had seen against Aston Villa, Ipswich and Cardiff.

Preston had two chances in a 90-second spell, a cross from McGeady clipping a Barnsley boot and travelling inches wide of the far post.

Then Gallagher put over a peach of a cross from the side of the box to find Makienok, one which the Dane headed straight at Davies.

The penalty shout came in the 43rd minute when Hugill got on the wrong side of Jones and was dumped on the floor.

Barnsley best chance was when Kent’s cross was flicked on to Bradshaw beyond the far post, his shot on the slide blocked by Cunningham.

Hugill’s late chance of glory saw him loop a header towards goal, Davies diving to his left to claw it behind.