Preston North End 0 Chesterfield 0

PHOTO KEVIN McGUINNESS. Preston North End manager Graham Westley
PHOTO KEVIN McGUINNESS. Preston North End manager Graham Westley
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Preston North End turned in another poor performance as they were held to a goalless draw at Deepdale by relegation-threatened Chesterfield.

They didn’t create a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes, with them severely lacking attacking ideas.

North End have now only scored three goals in the last eight games and that didn’t go down with the home faithful.

Graham Westley was barracked and booed by a section of fans after the final whistle as he walked to the tunnel.

Chesterfield almost snatched victory in stoppage time when a header from former North End centre-half Neal Trotman came back off the bar.

It was a game between two poor sides, excitement and entertainment at a premium on a damp and dismal night.

The only threat going forward came from Danny Mayor, and even the winger’s effectiveness was limited.

Westley had made four changes to the side, Daniel Devine, Chris Holroyd, Mayor and Jamie Proctor came into the starting line-up.

Out went Rhys Murphy, George Miller, Steven Smith and Aaron Brown, with Murphy the only one of that quartet to make the bench.

There was a place among the substitutes for young centre-half Bailey Wright, joined by the more experienced Iain Hume and Barry Nicholson.

Ahead of the game, North End chairman Peter Ridsdale confirmed that Alex Marrow’s loan spell had been cut short after the midfielder was recalled by Crystal Palace.

The early action saw Holroyd send a 20-yard volley bouncing across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

Jordan Bowery wasn’t too far away with an effort from distance at the other end as the game struggled to catch light.

As the first half dragged on, a Paul Coutts shot deflected off Drew Talbot and went behind for a corner.

Then Holroyd’s deep cross found Graham Cummins at the far post, his header looping over the bar.

Five minutes before half-time, a strong run from Alex Mendy carried him from the half-way line to the PNE box, but he poked his shot wide under pressure from Chris Robertson.

In first-half stoppage time, Devine deflected a Bowery centre across the face of goal and behind for a corner.

Chesterfield midfielder Danny Whitaker skimmed a shot wide of the target early in the second half, that chance coming just after Mendy hadn’t been able to get the right direction on a free header at the back post.

In an attempt to bolster Preston’s attacking threat, Iain Hume was introduced into the action just past the hour, replacing the ineffective Proctor.

And a further shake-up a few minutes saw Wright come on for Holroyd, the young Aussie slotting in at left-back which allowed Paul Parry to move up on to the wing with Danny Mayor moving over to the right.

It was Mayor who almost broke the deadlock in the 71st minute, the ball having fallen to him on the right side of the box.

He hesitated getting a shot away and seemed to get closed down, but then managed to make a bit of space for himself and hit a low angled effort which crept inches past the far post.

The visitors’ response was a drive from Craig Westcarr which got charged down by Robertson, the rebound falling to Nicky Ajose who drilled a shot into the ground and up into the gloves of Thorsten Stuckmann.

North End swiftly went down the other end and Hume fired wide of the near post after a run took him into the box.

In the 86th minute, Parry dragged a shot well wide from just outside the box, before PNE had a huge let-off as the clock ticked into stoppage time.

Whitaker’s corner from the left was met by Trotman who thumped a close-range header against the bar.

PNE: Stuckmann, Hunt, Devine, Robertson, Parry, Holroyd (Wright 66), Coutts, Procter, Mayor, Cummins (Nicholson 79), Proctor (Hume 62). Subs: Murphy, Arestidou.

Chesterfield: Lee, Talbot, Trotman, Thompson, Ridehalgh, Westcarr, Whitaker, Allott, Ajose (Boden 82), Mendy, Bowery. Subs: Lowry, Ford, Niven, Fleming.

Referee: Mark Heywood (West Yorks)

Attendance: 9,264