Match report: Brighton 0 PNE 0

Brighton v PNE
Brighton v PNE
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Preston North End ended a good few days on the road by holding unbeaten Championship leaders Brighton and Hove Albion to a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium.

In truth, the Lilywhites - backed by nearly 1,000 travelling supporters - could have won the contest, looking the stronger side as the game went on and having the clearer chances.

Substitute Joe Garner saw a header cleared off the line by Brighton right-back Bruno Saltor, then deep into stoppage-time, Garner met a Paul Gallagher corner on the volley and saw it fly over the bar.

The home side had probably enjoyed slightly better of the first-half play, with Jordan Pickford making two good saves from Albion winger Jamie Murphy.

It has been a good week for North End, with five points taken from three games, this draw keeping them in 19th place ahead of next Saturday's derby clash with Bolton Wanderers.

PNE boss Simon Grayson had stuck with the side which had started last Tuesday night's 3-0 win over Charlton, resisting the temptation to put Garner straight back into the side after suspension.

Garner was named among the substitutes, replacing Ben Davies on the bench, with Chris Kirlkland taking over from Steven James as cover goalkeeper after recovering from a back spasm.

Early on, Sam Baldock dragged a shot across goal and well wide of the far post after being found by a searching ball played out of midfield and over the top of the North End defence.

Baldock's back heel then created an opening for strike partner Tomer Hemed, the Israeli hammering a shot over the bar from the edge of the box.

North End had a strong claim for a penalty in the ninth minute when Jordan Hugill was pulled to the ground by Lewis Dunk as they wrestled for possession down the right hand side of the box.

It looked like the PNE front man had been impeded by referee Andy Davies waved play on.

The first chance of the game for the visitors was when a Gallagher corner from the left picked out Eoin Doyle at the near post, the Irishman's flicked header parried by Brighton keeper David Stockdale with the loose ball cleared out of the box.

Soon after, Adam Reach's centre found Doyle, this time his header looped high over the bar without troubling the keeper.

Pickford save well from Murphy with 24 minutes played, Murphy and Liam Rosenior having worked a clever short free-kick routine.

Murphy struck a shot from the edge of the box which Pickford dived to his left to push away.

The Lilywhites goalkeeper was in action again just after the half-hour mark, tipping the ball over the bar after Murphy's inswinging free-kick had travelled straight through and bounced in the six-yard box.

North End, playing at the impressive Amex Stadium for the first time, went close 10 minutes before the interval, a poor clearance out of defence by Dunk seized on by Alan Browne who fed a pass through to Hugill.

But Hugill's low side-foot shot from an angle lacked power and Stockdale held it diving to his left.

Six minutes into the second half, North End carved out a good chance as they counter-attacked from the edge of their own box.

Browne fed the ball out to Reach on the left-wing, the on-loan Middlesbrough man producing a powerful run before squaring the ball inside to Gallagher who bent his shot wide of the target.

The home side introduced Bobby Zamora into the action in the 62nd minute, the striker replacing Hemed.

North End went close when Gallagher's free-kick bent in right-footed from the left channel was flicked just wide of the far post by Greg Cunningham.

Garner came off the bench just after Cunningham's chance, taking over from Doyle in the forward line.

Twice in quick succession Preston almost broke the deadlock as they enjoyed a good spell of pressure.

In the 71st minute, Gallagher rolled a free-kick low into the box which came to the feet of Daniel Johnson but the midfielder scuffed his shot and the ball was cleared.

Gallagher picked up possession again and lifted a cross deep into the box where Garner rose to loop a header goalwards.

It arched over the keeper but right-back Bruno headed it off the line.

With 81 minutes gone, good play by the industrious Reach played in Browne to the left of goal but the midfielder's low pull-back was cut out by Stockdale diving on it.

An injury suffered by Albion left-back Gaetan Bong saw him stretchered off, with the home side having to play the eight minutes of stoppage-time with 10 men having used all of their substitutes.

In the fifth minute of time added on, Gallagher delivered a corner from the right which Garner met at full stretch on the volley but saw it fly over the bar.

Brighton: Stockdale, Bruno, Huenemeier, Dunk, Bong, Rosenior (March 66), Crofts, Ince, Murphy (Holla 79), Hemed (Zamora 62), Baldock. Subs: Calderon, Goldson, Manu, Maenpaa.

PNE: Pickford, Woods, Wright, Cunningham, Vermijl (Huntington 85), Browne, Gallagher, Johnson, Reach, Doyle (Garner 66), Hugill. Subs: Kilkenny, Keane, Welsh, May, Kirkland.

Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire)

Attendance: 24,629 (949 PNE)