Neither side could grab a winner in a goalless clash at Deepdale. Both sides had strong shouts for penalties – 2-1 in favour of North End, but none were given and despite late pressure the Lilywhites has to settle for a point.
Jordan Hugill was given his first start in a league game, leading the line, alongside Stevie May, with Eoin Doyle and Joe Garner unavailable.
The first half was missing a little bit of tempo, with neither goalkeeper forced into much action, the best of the chances for the Lilywhites came shortly before the break.
Paul Gallagher collected a ball from Daniel Johnson 30 yards out, before driving forward and unleashing a strike that flicked off the head of Bluebirds defender Sean Morrison, wrong-footing Cardiff skipper David Marshall between the sticks, but he was delighted to see the ball end up just over the bar.
From the resulting corner Gallagher himself delivered a ball from the right hand side, deep into the six yard box, where Bailey Wright met the ball, but couldn’t keep his header down and the ball flew just over the bar.
Three minutes after the break Stevie May got the right side of Sean Morrison and drove into the box only for the centre half to put an arm across the Scottish forward and pull him down, but referee Stuart Attwell waved play on; the chance on second look seemed like a stonewall penalty.
The visitors best chance came when half-time substitute Craig Noone delivered to the back post to where Joe Mason headed down for Shola Ameobi 12 yards out, but the on loan frontman side-footed over the bar when it seemed easier to score.
Noone then himself felt aggrieved at not being awarded a penalty, falling over Bailey Wright’s challenge, but like North End’s shout, this seemed a good chance of a penalty.
Just before the hour mark Tom Clarke met another Paul Gallagher outswinging corner, but again he couldn’t quite keep the ball down and it ricocheted off the top of the cross bar and behind into the Town End.
A double change saw Browne and Keane on for Welsh and May with a quarter of the game left and they almost had an immediate impact as the third strong penalty shout of the game as Connolly went through the back of Hugill ten yards out after reach had headed down Gallagher’s ball into the box from the right hand channel.
Skipper Tom Clarke was also forced off early after appearing to injure a shoulder when colliding with his own keeper, who had come to claim a cross amongst a melee of players from both teams – Marnick Vermijl on at right back with Calum Woods moving in alongside Bailey Wright.
A trio of blocks inside the North End box kept the Welshmen out as the game became more stretched in the final quarter of an hour, before Keane collected a Gallagher cross, but poked straight at Marshall from close range.
A free kick from Peter Whittingham was brilliantly saved by Jordan Pickford with ten minutes left after a harsh foul was given against Bailey Wright a yard outside the penalty area.
North End’s best chance came with five minutes to go as a pacey counter led to Reach feeding Johnson inside the box and the No.11 looked set to deliver the ball into the bottom left hand corner, but the ball went narrowly wide.
In the closing minutes the Lilywhites threw everything forward, Hugill getting on the end of a Cunningham shot, Reach crossing for Gallagher at the back post, but despite using every second of the four minutes added on to try and carve out a winner, it remained goalless.
: Pickford, Woods, Cunningham, Welsh (Browne, 69), Clarke (c) (Vermijl, 71), Wright, Reach, Johnson, May (Keane, 68), Hugill, Gallagher. Subs not used: Kirkland, Kilkenny, Brownhill, Smith.PNE line-up
: Marshall, Peltier, Morrison, Whittingham, Ralls (Noone, 46), Mason, Pilkington (Revell, 76), Dikgacoi, Connolly, Malone, Ameobi (John, 90). Subs not used: Moore, Gunnarsson, Tamas, O’Keefe.Cardiff City line-up
: 11,125 (549 away fans)Attendance
: Mr S AttwellReferee