Talking points from Preston North End's 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest

Preston manager Alex Neil shouts instructions from the technical area in the 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest
Preston manager Alex Neil shouts instructions from the technical area in the 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest

Preston North End put their first away point of the season on the board as they drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

Billy Bodin’s goal gave PNE a 40th minute lead, that an advantage they held until 10 minutes from time when Albert Adomah levelled for the home side.

Billy Bodin spearheaded Preston's attack against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground

Billy Bodin spearheaded Preston's attack against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground

Here are some of the talking points from the Lilywhites’ visit to the East Midlands on Saturday.

1. Who needs strikers?

Alex Neil fielded a starting XI without a recognised striker, although Bodin did operate earlier in his career as a No.9.

Neil felt the best way to unpick the Forest defence, one which perhaps wasn’t the most mobile, was with a fluid-moving front four.

Preston's Josh Harrop takes on Nottingham Forest's Tiago Silva

Preston's Josh Harrop takes on Nottingham Forest's Tiago Silva

Two seasons ago, he went with a similar approach to Forest – playing Bodin, Tom Barkhuizen and Callum Robinson across the front – and came back with a 3-0 win.

After 65 minutes, Neil changed approach with the introduction from the bench of Jayden Stockley.

With Louis Moult and David Nugent out injured and Barkhuizen – another option up front – sidelined too, Stockley was the one out-and-out forward who made the trip. Obviously that meant a style change for PNE, with them being more direct in order for Stockley to hold the ball up and relieve some the pressure which was building.

2. It was so encouraging to see Josh Harrop get through the full 90 minutes.

Preston midfielder Ben Pearson makes a pass against Nottingham Forest

Preston midfielder Ben Pearson makes a pass against Nottingham Forest

After missing a big chunk of last season after rupturing a cruciate liagment, it took Harrop all of pre-season and into the first couple of weeks of the campaign to find his form and sharpness.

Three goals in four games is a good indicator that his confidence is coming back and against Forest he had a very good afternoon coming inside off the left-wing.

Harrop’s versatility will be useful for Neil who likes to adopt a horses for courses approach from game to game.

As well as playing the wider role, he is very much at home as a No.10.

With strikers in short supply, spreading the goals around and getting them from other areas is vital, that something Harrop is capable of supplying.

3. Perhaps it is best to whisper this one but Ben Pearson’s on-pitch discipline appears to be improving.

Six starts this season have yielded only two yellow cards which for the midfielder is some achievement.

On Saturday he was more sinned against rather than being the sinner – Lewis Grabban and Tiago Silva were both booked for fouls on him in the second half.

Pearson's deeper role will mean he collects cautions, it is an occupational hazard.

It is keeping them to the minimum which is key, with him avoiding the ones for a bit of lip.

4. When the PNE players left the City Ground pitch, it signalled the arrival of the first international break.

In terms of shortening the casualty list, it has come at the right time – Barkhuizen, Darnell Fisher, Nugent and Andrew Hughes could all be back by the time Preston resume action against Brentford on September 14.

What North End have to guard against is their habit of starting slowly after an international break.