Preston North End Retro: A hollow Halloween against Bolton

Tempers flare between Preston and Bolton on Haloween night 2015
Tempers flare between Preston and Bolton on Haloween night 2015

Preston North End and Bolton Wanderers, the two lowest scorers in the Championship, fought out a Halloween goalless draw at Deepdale.

This local derby was high on pace but low on quality, both sides missing a cutting edge in the final third of the pitch.

There were chances at both ends but rarely were either goalkeeper stretched, on-loan future England keeper Jordan Pickford troubled only towards the end when he saved from Gary Madine.

It was a fourth consecutive clean sheet for North End but in that run have been three goalless draws.

Joe Garner had been restored to the starting line-up, however he didn’t get too much change out of the Bolton defence.

Garner stepping up from the bench to replace Jordan Hugill was the one change made to the Lilywhites starting XI by Simon Grayson.

The PNE boss kept with the same 3-5-2 formation which took four points from the away games at Charlton and Brighton. It was a straight swap between Garner and Hugill, with Hugill moving to the bench. Bolton had the game’s first chance, Jay Spearing’s corner from the right played long to the far post where Shola Ameobi’s header went straight at Pickford.

Garner was the creator of a sight of goal for North End in the 11th minute, the striker winning possession down the left hand side of the box before pulling the ball back for Marnick Vermijl, who sliced a first-time shot well wide of the target.

Three minutes later, Garner tried his luck from 20 yards but the shot lacked power and rolled straight through to keeper Ben Amos.

Garner won a free-kick after getting a shove in the back from David Wheater but Paul Gallagher hit the set-piece into the wall and the chance went begging.

With 25 minutes gone, Gallagher’s corner from the right found Greg Cunningham in the middle, his header going on target but hitting team-mate Eoin Doyle in the six-yard box.

Calum Woods was a touch fortunate to avoid a red card when he brought down Max Clayton in full flight just outside the box after Bolton had broken forward on the counter-attack. It looked like he was the last man but referee Dean Whitestone felt there was cover coming across for Woods and the colour of the card was yellow.

The resulting free-kick was squandered by the visitors, Joe Manuel Casado hammering it high over the bar and into the Alan Kelly Town End.

PNE’s first substitution of the evening saw Jordan Hugill replace Doyle in the 62nd minute.

Daniel Johnson tested Amos with a curling shot from 20 yards which the keeper got himself well positioned behind to save. In the 77th minute, an awful pass across his own back line by Cascado saw Hugill intercept and break forward, but with Johnson next to him screaming for a pass, Hugill chose to shoot from 20 yards which went straight at the keeper.

It needed a good save from Pickford to deny Bolton in the 84th minute, a low shot from substitute Gary Madine held low down by the keeper.

Late pressure from North End was not able to produce a late winner, the quality lacking with the final ball.