Preston North End 1-1 Rotherham: Lilywhites frustrated by Millers at Deepdale
Preston North End were frustrated by Rotherham at Deepdale on Saturday as their unbeaten Championship run moved to five games.
After four goals in each of their previous two home games this was a below-par display from PNE who struggled to find any real flow to their play all afternoon.
Tom Barkhzuien’s 50th career goal did put the hosts in front on 39 minutes but the visitors were the better side after the break with Michael Smith’s strike 10 minutes into the second half ultimately meaning the game ended honours even.
Both sides ended the day as they started on the same number of points towards the wrong end of the table.
The home side had started the game on the front foot.
A fine Callum Robinson pass just three minutes in played Barkhuizen into a shooting position but his effort was tame.
Shortly after another promising attack ended with the ball breaking to Daniel Johnson on the edge of the area but his shot was deflected wide.
Rotherham had chances of their own in the opening quarter of an hour.
Will Vaulks’ shot from distance wasn’t far wide before Smith profited on a mix-up between Paul Huntington and Ben Davies to send in a low shot from 20 yards that came back off the post.
By and large though it was a pretty low-key opening with both sides guilty of some sloppy play.
Chris Maxwell was in action twice with routine saves to keep out former Blackpool man Kyle Vassell’s header and Richie Towell’s shot either side of Andrew Hughes’ free-kick which was easy for Marek Rodak at the other end.
The game then changed six minutes before the break with a goal out of nothing.
Robinson whipped the corner into a dangerous area and Barkhuizen flicked it goalwards with a deflection helping it beyond Rodak and in.
It was nearly 2-0 before the half was out.
Semi Ajayi sent a poor header back in the direction of his ‘keeper but Barkhuizen pounced, his effort saved before the Rotherham defender recovered to hack the ball away.
The Millers were a different side in the early part of the second half though.
Vassell again tested Maxwell four minutes after the interval but this time his shot needed a save at full stretch from the PNE ‘keeper to keep it out.
That early pressure didn’t jolt the home side into life though and Paul Warne’s men were level on 55 minutes.
Ryan Williams broke well down the right and squared the ball for Smith who turned and fired home from 12 yards out.
Robinson did shoot wide from 20 yards shortly after the goal but PNE just couldn’t get going.
Neil introduced Sean Maguire, Paul Gallagher and Louis Moult but it wasn’t until 13 minutes from time that PNE got a clear sight of goal.
You would have put your money on Robinson scoring after his recent form but after taking the ball down well and shifting it to shoot, Rodak stayed big and denied him one-on-one.
That was about that from both sides though, the visitors by far the happier with a point, just their second on the road this season.
PNE: Maxwell, Clarke (capt), Huntington, Davies, Hughes, Pearson, Johnson (Gallagher 72), Barkhuizen (Moult 75), Browne, Robinson, Nmecha (Maguire 64). Subs not used: Rudd, Storey, Fisher, Earl.
Rotherham: Rodak, Vyner, Ajayi, Robertson, Mattock, Vaulks (capt), Towell, Williams, Taylor (Newell 68), Vassell (Proctor 76), Smith (Manning 85). Subs not used: Price, Wood, Palmer, Wiles
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 11,780 (700 away)