PNE 0 Leyton Orient 0North End had to settle for a point on a goalless afternoon at Deepdale against Leyton Orient.
The Lilywhites had a number of good oppoertunities but were denied by the superb form of visiting keeper Jamie Jones.
Manager Simon Grayson had given Club captain John Mousinho his first start, replacing stand in skipper John Welsh (Achilles) in the middle of the park, alongside Nicky Wroe.
It was Mousinho’s first league start since he scored the winner at Hartlepool on New Year’s Day, having injured his hamstring in the FA Cup at Millwall four days later.
Bailey Wright and Will Hayhurst also returned to the starting XI after respective ankle and hamstring injuries, with Chris Robertson and Joe Garner dropping to the bench, whilst Keith Keane came into the side at right back for Paul Connolly.
The game itself in the first half was dominated by the Lilywhites, but overshadowed by a bad injury to Stuart Beavon and two refereeing decisions with the visitors lucky to end the half with 11 men.
Beavon was stretchered off after O’s skipper Nathan Clarke came through the back of the North End forward. Seven minutes of treatment was made on what looked like a serious neck/head injury, before the No.29 was stretchered off. It was a shame for the joint top scorer, who had started brightly, seeing a left foot shot blocked after only six minutes.
Following the resumption in play, it was all North End. Firstly, from the resulting free kick Bailey Wright saw an effort tipped over by visiting stopper Jamie Jones after Beavon’s replacement Joe Garner had flicked on Nicky Wroe’s free kick.
Seven minutes later, a free kick on the opposite flank from Lee Holmes was whipped into the box from a right hand channel 35 yards out and Bailey Wright was once again the target, inches away from getting in ahead of Jones.
North End were denied what should have been their first home penalty for a year on 37 minutes. Jack King’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked by an Orient arm after a good ball from John Mousinho and then as the deflection came out to Lee Holmes, he played the ball back across to King who found Will Hayhurst, but the visiting defence did brilliantly on the line to deny Garner his first home goal.
Two minutes before the scheduled interval the O’s No.1 Jamie Jones made a brilliant save from, to tip a King effort onto the crossbar. The frontman smashed the ball left-footed from the edge of the ‘D’ and then Garner and Mousinho collided with each other as the ball bounced down a yard off the line.
Six minutes of time was added after the Beavon injury and in the third minute of stoppage time the East London outfit were very lucky not to go down to ten men. Leon McSweeney was booked for a horrendous tackle through the back of Lee Holmes – it was a terrible late challenge, but first year official Steve Martin only issued yellow
The second half started with North End still on the attack, Hayhurst cleverly crossing with the outside of his boot for King to knock down for Holmes, who flashed a left foot drive just past the left hand upright from 20 yards out.
Jack King then had a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring, heading over the bar from seven yards out after Holmes had a right wing cross deflected just seven minutes into the second period.
There was great news in the second half as Stuart Beavon walked along the touchline and sat in the dugout for the remainder of the game.
With 12 minutes left a great save again from Jones denied Nicky Wroe his tenth of the season, with a thumping curler from 20 yards and then from Holmes' resulting corner, Bailey Wright flicked on the ball and King was inches away at the back post.
Three minutes was added on for stoppages with North End pushing hard to get a winner, but the visitors held on for a point.
: Rudd, Keane, Buchanan, Mousinho, Huntington, Wright, Holmes, Wroe, Beavon (Garner, 23), King (Cummins, 79), Hayhurst (Monakana, 69). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Robertson, Procter, Davies.PNE line-up
: Jones, Odubajo, Cuthbert (Omozusi, 50), Clarke, McSweeney, Cox, Vincelot, James, Cook, Batt (MacDonald, 79), Lisbie (Mooney, 73). Subs not used: Grainger, Sawyer, Smith, Lee.Leyton Orient line-up
: Mr Steve MartinReferee
: 8,405 (210 away fans)Attendance