Talking points from Preston North End's goalless draw with Cardiff City

After three away defeats on the bounce, Preston North End put a point on the board against Cardiff City .

By Dave Seddon
Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 6:00 am
Paul Huntington salutes the Preston fans at the final whistle
Paul Huntington salutes the Preston fans at the final whistle

They should have brought all three points back from South Wales, with a sackful of chances missed in the last game before Christmas.

A look at some of the key moments and issues from the goalless draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.

1. North End racked-up 16 chances during the game and a good number of them were gilt-edged.

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Alan Browne has a shot at goal against Cardiff, watched by Preston team-mate Ben Pearson

Sean Maguire put two into the side-netting, Billy Bodin forced a save out of the Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge and Maguire drove another effort across goal and wide – all in the first half.

After the interval, there were chances for Paul Gallagher, Alan Browne, Ben Pearson and Bodin.

So this visit to the Welsh capital was certainly a missed opportunity for North End.

The build-up play from tee to green was impressive but in and around the box better was needed.

Preston skipper Tom Clarke slotted in well at right-back against Cardiff

Fortunately they were never really in danger of being punished at the other end by their hosts.

It was PNE's first goalless draw of the season.

2. PNE’s away record needs work in 2020 but at least this draw halted a run of three losses on the road.

It was a fourth away game without scoring though, their last goal on opposition soil being at Charlton Athletic on November 3 – Gallagher netting a penalty.

Preston supporters in a Christmas mood at Cardiff

Their last goal from open play away was Josh Harrop’s effort at Middlesbrough on October 1.

3. The Lilywhites defence looked solid and it was a tall back four who featured.

Tom Clarke’s inclusion at right-back added more height to a defence already boasting Patrick Bauer, Paul Huntington and Andrew Hughes.

Clarke slotted in well after a lengthy absence and just one substitute appearance.

In the middle, Huntington got a fifth start on the bounce and was dominant in the air.

North End might not play out from the back as much with him in the team but he brings other strengths.

He’s covered well for Ben Davies, meaning his fellow Cumbrian has not had to be rushed back.

Davies isn’t far from full fitness and will be back in the team when he is.

Huntington though, has put himself back into Alex Neil’s plans over the few weeks.

4. Ben Pearson’s display at Cardiff will have shown a wider audience what a very good player he is – there’s more to his game than anger and yellow cards.

He was by far and away the best player on the pitch on Saturday, always showing for the ball and using it well.

But for a good late save from Etheridge, Pearson could have return home as PNE’s matchwinner.

5. It was a fan-unfriendly 12.30pm kick-off in Wales but 504 Preston supporters still made the trip.

The coaches had a 5am start - plenty of coffee needed at the services - and others travelled by car and rail to show their support in a game which was televised.

They were in good voice too on a day when the home faithful were somewhat subdued.