Preston North End 0 Reading 0 match report: PNE escape with a point as the Royals miss a late penalty at Deepdale

Preston North End survived conceding a late penalty to take a point from their Deepdale clash with Reading.

Sunday, 24th January 2021, 2:48 pm

With eight minutes remaining on this Sunday dinnertime contest, Joe Rafferty conceded a penalty after pulling back Luca Joao as they challenged in the box.

Fortune shone on North End though, as Joao dragged his spot-kick wide of the post.

Reading will feel hard done by that their second-half pressure didn't bring more reward but to finish on the losing side would have been harsh on PNE goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.

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Reading striker Lucas Joao is wrestled to the floor by Preston North End left-back Joe Rafferty for the Royals' penalty

He pulled off a series of good saves throughout the game, one from a Tom McIntyre effort absolutely top-drawer - however the flag had gone up against McIntyre so it wouldn't have counted.

In terms of their attacking play, the Lilywhites offered more of a threat in the first half before running out of ideas going forward in the second half.

Their best chances fell early and late in the first period, Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis testing the keeper.

Having initially named an unchanged side, PNE manager Alex Neil had been forced into a late switch with his selection.

Referee Geoff Eltringham waves away PNE's protests after he awarded Reading a penalty at Deepdale

During the warm-up Andrew Hughes aggravated a shoulder injury he had suffered in the win at Birmingham last Wednesday.

Rafferty was promoted from the bench into the starting XI, with Jack Baxter getting a place among the substitutes.

North End had the contest's first chance with just 43 seconds the clock, Emil Riis chesting the ball into the path of Scott Sinclair whose shot from 20 yards was pushed behind by keeper Rafael.

Reading's John Swift tested Iversen in the 19th minute with a long-range free-kick, one which the Dane dived to his right to parry.

Daniel Iversen has an excellent game in the PNE nets

Good work from Jayson Molumby on the right-hand side of the box set up Brad Potts at the near post, the midfielder's shot on the turn going high over the bar.

PNE had a spell of inviting pressure on themselves by giving away some unnecessary free-kicks within 10 yards of the box

Swift sent one of them into the side-netting while Sone Aluko lifted another high over the bar and into the Alan Kelly Town End.

Iversen got both gloves to a curling shot from Josh Laurent to parry it away as the visitors enjoyed a patch of pressure.

PNE midfielder Jayson Molumby challenges for the ball with Reading winger Sone Aluko

Three minutes before half-time North End had a good opportunity to break the deadlock.

Ryan Ledson did well down the left side of the box, his low cross finding Riis in the near post area.

Riis took a moment or two to dig the ball out of his feet before poking a shot goalwards which Rafael blocked well with his legs at close quarters.

North End had to be grateful to a couple of saves from Iversen in quick succession early in the second half.

Reading broke swiftly on them in the 52nd minute after defending their box, Lucas Joao's pass finding Ovie Ejaria in the box.

Ejaria hit a low shot which Iversen got down to well at the near post to push behind.

The resulting corner was met by Tom McIntyre on the volley, his effort looping just over the bar.

Iversen then had to help a shot from Aluko over the bar, the keeper appearing to seen it late and reacted well.

The on-loan keeper made a great reaction save to deny McIntyre in the 69th minute but the offside flag had gone up against the Reading man - not that Iversen knew that.

The big moment of drama in the game came in the 82nd minute when Reading were awarded their penalty, Rafferty having grappled with Joao as they challenged for the ball.

Referee Geoff Eltringham took his time before giving it, the North End players protesting strongly - Paul Huntington too strongly and he got a yellow card.

Joao stepped-up to the spot and hit his penalty wide of the left-hand post.

PNE: Iversen, Browne, Huntington, Davies, Rafferty, Ledson, Whiteman, Sinclair, (Evans 86), Molumby (Johnson 80), Potts, Riis (Barkhuizen 70). Subs (not used): Fisher, Baxter, Gallagher, Bayliss, O'Reilly, Ripley.

Reading: Rafael, Holmes, Morrison, McIntyre, Richards, Rinomhota, Laurent, Aluko (Semedo 77), Swfit, Ejaria, Joao. Subs (not used): Esteves, Olise, Baldock, Gibson, Tetek, Onen, Camara, Southwood.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham)

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