Stoke City 0 Preston North End 0 match report: Clean sheet for the Lilywhites as Stoke finish with 10 men after a red card

Preston North End earned only their second away draw of the season, sharing the spoils with Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 17th April 2021, 2:52 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th April 2021, 2:54 pm

The Potters played the last few minutes with 10 men after defender Harry Souttar was sent-off for bringing down Alan Browne who was clear on goal.

North End's best two chances of the contest came before the red card, Ched Evans heading over from close range while Andrew Hughes saw a free-kick hit the post.

Their second-half performance was much better than their first which was toothless to say the least going forward.

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Preston North End on the attack against Stoke at the bet 365 Stadium

Stoke had the better of that first 45 minutes, Daniel Iversen making three decent saves to keep parity.

Whatever Frankie McAvoy said in his half-time team talk produced a more confident second-half showing with far more attacking intent.

The point pushed them closer to mathematical safety, with PNE now points clear of the relegation zone.

And it was a welcome clean sheet after shipping five goals against Brentford last week.

PNE midfielder Ryan Ledson has a shot against Stoke

Their side had shown two changes from the Brentford game, Browne and Greg Cunningham coming into the starting XI.

Cunningham's inclusion as left wing-back allowed Tom Barkhuizen to move across to the right, with Sepp van den Berg switching into the centre of defence alongside Jordan Storey and Andrew Hughes.

The opening quarter of an hour of play offered nothing in the way of chances at either end, it being much a case of trying to earn a right to play.

Stoke wing-back Tommy Smith drove a shot too high after North End had cleared a corner as far as the edge of the box.

North Ened substitute Brad Potts slides in with a challenge on Stoke's Nick Powell

Ched Evans drilled a low finish into the net but the whistle went as he shot, referee James Linington pulling him up for a push on Souttar as they challenged for the ball.

It looked on the soft side, contact minimal between the pair.

Browne was too high with a shot from the edge of the box after a good run by Hughes had carried PNE up the pitch, however the flag went up against Browne for offside so it wouldn't have counted.

In the last 20 minutes of the first half it was Stoke doing the bulk of the attacking, with Evans and Emil Riis at the other end of the pitch chasing long balls down the channels without any success.

PNE striker Emil Riis battles for possession against Stoke

Iversen made a fine save in the 26th minute, spreading himself to block a shot from Josh Tymon after a fine ball from the back had played him clear down the left hand side of the box.

When the ball came off Iversen and fell back to Tymon, the Potters man fired a second attempt into the side-netting.

A 20-yard shot from Nick Powell swerved late and forced Iversen to push it out, with the Danish keeper making a great save three minutes before half-time to prevent team-mate Ben Whiteman putting through his own goal.

Whiteman was running back to cover in the box when a low cross hit him in the shin and went goalwards, Iversen dropping to his right to push it behind.

North End showed more attacking purpose at the start of the second half, getting a sight of goal in the 53rd minute when a foul on Riis by James Chester brought a free-kick and a yellow card for the Stoke defender.

Whiteman's free-kick was disappointing though, going straight into the wall.

After an hour PNE fashioned their best chance so far from open play, Cunningham's cross field ball finding Barkhuizen on the right-wing.

He beat the defender on that side and sent over a cross which Evans met six yards out but headed over.

Souttar headed inches wide of the far post after meeting Smith's corner before the woodwork denied North End in the 68th minute.

Ryan Ledson's free-kick was handled a yard outside the box by Sam Clucas, bringing them another free-kick - Clucas was booked.

Hughes took the second one, his left-footed effort staying low and hitting the base of the far post.

In the 78th minute the referee played on after a strong challenge from substitute Brad Potts - just on for Evans - on Powell.

North End worked the ball out to the left side, Hughes' cross into the box headed clear as far as Barkhuizen.

From 20 yards Barkhuizen drove a low shot goalwards which keeper Adam Davies dived to save well.

Stoke were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute when Souttar got his marching orders.

Substitute Sean Maguire held the ball up well in the Stoke half and played Browne clear with a good pass.

Browne went running clear on goal, his progress halted by Souttar's trip just outside the box.

It was a straight red card for Souttar, however the free-kick was wasted with Browne's effort hitting the end of the wall.

When the ball was recycled back, Browne found himself in lots of space in the box but rushed his shot and dragged it wide.

There was a scare in stoppage-time for North End, Storey's header back towards Iversen falling short and allowing substitute Jacob Brown in down the side of the box.

He rolled the ball into the middle which Hughes comfortably stopped and cleared.

Stoke: Davies, Chester, Souttar, Tymon (Batth 89), Smith, Clucas (Thompson 75) Mikel, Powell, Norrington-Davies, Norton (Brown 75), Fletcher (Voke 79). Subs (not used): Cousins, Coates, Matondo, Tatlor, Gunn.

PNE: Iversen, van den Berg, Storey, Hughes, Barkhuizen, Ledson, Whiteman, Cunningham, Browne, Riis (Maguire 76), Evans (Potts 76). Subs (not used): Bayliss, Molumby, Huntington,, Sinclair, Bodin, Gordon, Ripley.

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

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