North End made it four straight clean sheets, but were forced to settle for a draw against local rivals Bolton Wanderers in a hard-fought derby battle in the live Saturday night TV fixture.
Joe Garner returned to the starting line-up in place of Jordan Hugill in an otherwise unchanged side for the Lilywhites.
The game began amidst a crackling derby atmosphere and it was the Lilywhites who responded to the motivation earliest.
Some positive build-up play from Joe Garner on left edge of the box saw him beat Dorian Dervite before cutting inside two defenders and laying the ball back for Marnick Vermijl on the edge of the ‘D’, but the No.2 scuffed his shot wide of the right hand post.
On the quarter hour mark Garner was fouled 28 yards out by Wheater a central position. Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson stood over it, but it was the skipper who took the effort, only finisng the wall.
Wanderers looked dangerous from set pieces and at the half’s mid-way point a free kick from Spearing, after foul by Wright on Feeney, found Ameobi from the left corner of the box, but the former Newcastle frontman headed over from six yards out.
Shortly after Liam Feeney was sent through by a Hay Spearing ball over the top, a foul was given against Calum Woods on the edge of the box and he was booked for it. The free kick was to the right of the ‘D’ 20 yards out, but lasted over the bar by Jose Casado.
On the half hour mark there were two blocks from shots by Daniel Johnson, both going into the top right hand corner, blocked by Casado and Wheater and then Bolton broke, Max Clayton putting a good ball in, but Darren Pratley put in a two footed late tackle on Bailey Wright from behind – and was very lucky not to be sent off, only a yellow issued by referee Dean Whitestone.
Before half-time there was a great spell of pressure by North End, a Reach pull back and a Doyle shot both blocked for corners, but Amos did well amidst quality balls in from Gallagher.
Into the second half and all the derby spirit was in full evidence and with 13 minutes to go a great chance fell to North End. Pressure forced a mistake and Garner headed down for substitute Hugill, it was now two on one with Daniel Johnson, but instead of playing in the midfield man the young striker went for glory and only found Ben Amos, with the No.11 between positioned.
With six minutes left another substitute, the Trotters’ Madine was denied by an excellent Pickford stop after a shot through a crowd of players.
It was all hands to the pump for Bolton in the four minutes of injury time with North End camped in their final third, Huntington, Hugill, Gallagher and Johnson all having efforts but in the end they could not force the winner.
PNE line-up: Pickford, Vermijl (Huntington, 82), Reach, Woods, Wright, Cunningham, Browne (Kilkenny, 82), Gallagher, Johnson, Garner, Doyle (Hugill, 62). Subs not used: Kirkland, Keane, Welsh, May.
Bolton Wanderers line-up: Amos, Dervite, Vela, Feeney, Spearing (Danns, 80), Clayton, Derik (Pisano, 83), Casado, Pratley (c), Ameobi (Madine, 74), Wheater. Subs not used: Rachubka, Heskey, Twardzik, Woolery.
Attendance: 14,494 (3,240 away fans)
Referee: Mr D Whitestone