Bristol City 1 PNE 1
Goals by Jack King and Wade Elliott meant the points were shared at Ashton Gate.
King’s deflected strike after 69 minutes was equalised by Elliott, also seeing his effort re-directed into the corner of the goal to mean a share of the spoils for both sides as the Lilywhites guaranteed at least a place in the Play-Off positions.
Manager Simon Grayson made three changes, with Bailey Wright, Chris Humphrey and Craig Davies replacing Paul Gallagher and Keith Keane who dropped to the bench and Stuart Beavon, who was ill.
The game took a while to get started, but saw both sets of fans rise and give a rousing round of applause in the seventh minute to mark what would have been Sir Tom Finney’s 92nd birthday.
The action stepped up a pace ten minutes in with strong PNE claims for a penalty. Lee Holmes seemed to be clearly brought down by Adam El-Abd’s tackle from behind, but referee Rob Lewis waved the claims away. This came after a Joe Garner header had been saved, following David Buchanan’s excellent cross from the left.
On 21 minutes a Jack King overhead kick started a flurry of PNE pressure and chances; the No.22’s opportunity coming after Lee Holmes’ left wing free kick was only headed up in the air.
Just after the half hour mark the home side’s skipper and leading scorer Sam Baldock dragged a shot across the face of goal and narrowly wide from tight left hand angle.
This was swiftly followed by a PNE break resulting in a free kick that saw former City man Neil Kilkenny have a low shot saved by Fielding away to his left, after Holmes had been brought down on edge of ‘D’ by El-Abd, who was booked.
A minute later as PNE pressure continued Garner was inches away from adding to his 23 goals for the season, getting his head on Chris Humphrey’s cross, the ball flying just wide of the right hand post from 12 yards out.
Eight minutes before the interval yet another cross from Holmes, playing in the No.10 role behind the front two, resulted in another Kilkenny shot. The effort on the penalty spot was blocked, but only saw the ball run out to Garner on edge of the area, whose shot was just over the bar, under pressure from Nyron Nosworthy.
In the 13th minutes of the second period Declan Rudd was forced into action for the first time to deny Karleigh Osbourne after Baldock’s corner from the left hand side; an instinctive stop from the on loan keeper low to his left.
But in the 69th minute North End were ahead. It was a fabulous goal. Alan Browne, who had just been brought on, made a surging run to the edge of box and was upended by Wade Elliott – booked for his efforts. The free kick was taken by second substitute Josh Brownhill whose effort went straight into the wall, but was won back by David Buchanan, who gave the ball back to the 18-year-old; his first time cross was chested down by Joe Garner to King on the edge of the box who slashed a powerful drive off Nyron Nosworthy into the top right hand corner.
It was almost two with 16 minutes left as Joe Garner’s nod down from a long ball from Bailey Wright into the path of Craig Davies, but his left foot shot flew into the side netting.
But moments later the home side were level. A low cross into the box was not cleared on the edge of the six yard box and it came back out to Wade Elliott who stepped inside and fired a low shot, taking a deflection past Declan Rudd into the bottom left hand corner.
The Robins’ final change, Tyrone Barnett, had only been on the pitch for two minutes when he skied a glorious chance to give his side the lead, firing well over the bar from eight yards out with only Declan Rudd to beat.
Three minutes were added on by the officials and North End won a corner in the second minute as Garner’s shot was deflected and Chris Humphrey’s cross was met by Tom Clarke, but over the bar and the yellows had to settle for a point.
: Fielding; Nosworthy, El-Abd (Cunningham, 46), Osborne; Wagstaff, Elliott, Pack, Williams; Emmanuel-Thomas (Barnett, 82); Paterson (Burns, 72), Baldock. Subs not used: Moore, Moloney, Kelly, Pearson.Bristol City line-up
: Rudd, Clarke, King, Wright; Humphrey, Welsh (Brownhill, 67), Kilkenny, Buchanan; Holmes (Browne, 67); C Davies (K Davies, 83), Garner. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Keane, Laird, Gallagher.PNE line-up
: Mr R LewisReferee
: 12,537 (755 away fans)Attendance