A thrilling advertisement for Championship football saw PNE and Derby share the points in a goalless draw under the floodlights at Deepdale.
A pretty even first half saw Derby hit the woodwork twice while, at the other end, great chances for Browne and Stockley went begging.
After the break it was mostly North End with Gally having the best chance to win the points as Derby ran out of steam late in the game and I honestly thought we would go on to collect all three points.
Preston certainly did their status no harm with this third consecutive very good performance, with the Sky viewers certainly getting their money’s worth and even though the game ended in a nil-nil draw I thought the level of football displayed by both teams was very good.
Alex Neil started with the same team for the third consecutive game as PNE looked to build on the away wins and Stoke and at QPR.
It was the familiar 4-2-3-1 as North End started brightly and were on the offensive right from the kick-off. Alan Browne had the first chance for North End but his shot hit Stockley and went wide.
At the other end Harry Wilson hit a thunderbolt from 25 yards which hit the bar. Stockley then had a chance to turn and shoot but his shot went wide. Ben Pearson could have easily seen red for a horror tackle and was fortunate to get away with a yellow from referee Bond.
Derby finished the half the stronger and Wilson hit the post with Rudd rooted to his line and the first half ended with the visitors just shading it.
Alex Neil would have been glad to get the boys in to re-organise after we had just gone off the boil towards the end of the first half. Preston certainly came out rejuvenated at the start of the second period and started to take the game to the Rams.
North End had three decent chances withing the first quarter-of-an-hour as we moved clearly into the ascendancy and had Derby right on the back foot. A real goalmouth scramble saw the ball pinging around all over the place when Gallagher, Potts and finally Fisher all had attempts that were blocked.
There were late chances for Maguire and Potts as North End looked for the winner but unfortunately it wouldn’t come and we had to be happy with a draw, but certainly a win on points.
I suppose it shows the changing mentality at Deepdale when we are disappointed with only a home draw against a team in the top six.
No doubting that over the 90 minutes North End were the better side and even though it was only one point it means that we have taken eight points from the last four games and that is promotion form in anybody’s book.
The fact is that PNE have probably left it too late for a play-off charge but you never know in a division where any team is likely to beat any other.
I thought there were many solid performances, particularly the full backs but my man of the match goes to Brad Potts who I thought was outstanding.