Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray thought PNE changed personnel out of fear of winger but felt the visitors still carried a threat

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Sunderland manager thought Preston North End changed their personnel around out of fear of winger Jack Clarke but still felt the visitors carried a threat in their 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light.

PNE boss Ryan Lowe made four changes to the side that lost to Sheffield United before the international break as Greg Cunningham, Ryan Ledson, Robbie Brady and Ched Evans all came into the starting line up.

Brad Potts was one to make way with Brady playing in behind the striker and Alan Browne playing at right wing back.

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Mowbray felt that that switch could have been due to the danger that Clarke possessed down the left side for the Black Cats, and their no.20 did cause some problems down PNE’s right.

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray.Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray.
Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray.

Mowbray said: “They're big, they're strong, they're well organised. You can see how they can score a goal from a set play. Their wing backs - they played Browne at wing back today and he doesn't generally play wing back, he's probably afraid of Clarke's power and speed against whoever they would have played there.

"They were alright. I could feel their threat and they were alright, Preston. I have been the Blackburn manager for five-and-a-half years, we've had lots of tussles with Preston.

"I know they're an honest, hard working, committed football team and they showed that today.”

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The game was PNE’s sixth 0-0 draw of the season, something which did cross the mind of the former Blackburn Rovers manager.

Keeping a clean sheet has become North End’s specialty this season, keeping eight so far this campaign which is the highest in the division.

Whilst Mowbray was pleased with his side’s performance, he had to also consider Preston’s excellent defensive record.

He said: “I thought we were generally the team in the ascendancy and yet every set play was a danger to us because we found it difficult to win the first contact.

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"For everyone but Aji Alese and Dan Batth we were outdone physically really. I thought it was a good clean sheet I was just disappointed we couldn't find a way to finish it off. We had plenty of good opportunities without them turning into clear goalscoring chances.

“It's frustrating but you have to put it into context with the team that we played against, I don't know how many clean sheets they've had this year but it's been ridiculous.

"Their first four games were 0-0. They set up well defensively, they carry a threat particularly in set plays. They carry a huge difference in physicality in the teams but we managed to see that off and we had, probably not clear cut chances, but we got in behind them quite a bit.

"That final pass, that little run in the box that finishes with a shot on target, we couldn't pick out that last pass today. Even Patrick Roberts cutting in off the left hand side and it going whizzing past the post rather than going in off the post and into the bottom corner.

"It would have been nicer sitting here having won 1-0 for how hard we worked for it. Put the point in the bag and move on.