Preston fan John Roper thinks Alex Neil will be happy with the point against Reading

As is often the case, this lunchtime kick off ended all square although I suppose North End will feel the happier of the two sides having survived a penalty miss from Reading with just seven minutes of the game to go.

By John Roper
Sunday, 24th January 2021, 3:13 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th January 2021, 3:15 pm
Joe Rafferty gave a penalty away which Reading missed
Joe Rafferty gave a penalty away which Reading missed

I thought the first half was more of a spectacle than the second half with North End not offering a great deal in the Royals’ box in the second 45 minutes. Reading looked the more likely after the break but never really had a clear cut chance up to Joao missing the spot kick and Alex Neil will probably be the happier manager.

Reading look a very decent side and to keep a clean sheet was certainly a tick in the box for North End but this lack of creativity in some games, particularly at home, may well cost North End in the long run.

Several bookings for the Whites on an afternoon when I thought we conceded far too many needless fouls against a team with a couple of free kick specialists.

Neil decided to keep faith with the side that won at Birmingham on Wednesday evening but was forced into a late change when Andrew Hughes tweaked his shoulder in the warm up and Joe Rafferty was called up. North End started off the better with Scott Sinclair having an effort in the first minute.

Reading started to edge their way back in the game and had a series of free kicks all in decent positions which Swift couldn’t convert. The game was fairly even with both midfields dominating with a few half chances at either end. Brad Potts had a shot which went over and a Swift shot was saved by Iversen.

North End had the best chance of the half just three minutes from the break when Emil Riis and then Alan Browne had a double effort but neither could force the ball home as Riis` shot was saved.

North End had looked decent in the first half but the one criticism was the number of free kicks conceded in dangerous positions. No changes for Preston at half-time as the visitors came out with a touch of pizzazz in the early stages of the second half. Three attempts in two minutes put North End on the back foot a little as it took us a while to get up to the speed of the game in the second period.

Iversen made an excellent save seven minutes into the second half as the game really settled down into a midfield battle for the next quarter of an hour. Tom Barkhuizen replaced Riis with twenty minutes left but he never really got chance to run at a well organised Royals side.

Daniel Johnson was brought on to try and unlock the Reading defence but three minutes later North End held their breath when referee Geoff Eltringham awarded a penalty with eight minutes left on the clock. No doubt in my mind it was a spot kick after a silly concession from Rafferty.

Joao fired the spot kick wide and North End were off the hook. A late appearance by Evans had little impact and North End held out for a point in a game that saw midfields generally on top.

This was not North End`s best performance of the season but it certainly wasn`t their worst either. No doubt the visitors will feel they should have won the game but for large parts of this encounter North End battled well and closed Reading down the best way they could.

That is two games against the Royals without conceding a goal and to take four points from a side with a number of high quality expensive players in their side is no mean feat.I thought the defence generally held well apart from Rafferty’s misdemeanour and the midfield worked really hard to frustrate the visitors.

Riis did quite well in the first period but after the break we offered very little in the opposition box and if you don’t score goals you don’t win games. A point won in my book all things considered and a look at the next few fixtures sees some opportunity for North End to gain some vital points and move up the table.