The Lilywhites had to settle for a point at Deepdale, as Millwall held them to a goalless draw in PR1.
Alex Neil’s side had the best of the chances, with Josh Harrop being given the chance to take all three points shortly after half-time, but some resolute defending from the Lions meant they prevented North End scoring at home for the first time in 19 games.
The manager welcomed Darnell Fisher back from injury and also brought John Welsh back into the side, Calum Woods and Alan Browne dropping to the bench, and the backline were largely untroubled with the opposition, who set up with two rigid banks of four, intent on making it a difficult afternoon for PNE on the attacking front.
It was the Lions who had the game’s first real chance, with their one effort on goal. It came 13 minutes in, when Shaun Williams’ deep corner from the left of the Town End goal found its way to Aiden O’Brien in the back right hand corner of the penalty area and the Irishman’s snap shot was well saved by Chris Maxwell.
At the other end, Jordan Archer’s first meaningful save came shortly after the quarter hour mark, as Tom Barkhuizen showed excellent strength down the right to hold off James Meredith, before getting into the box and curling a left foot shot, that the visitors’ No.1 tipped around the post for a corner.
Just before the interval, the ball was once again well worked by PNE down the left hand side – Daniel Johnson threading the ball through to Sean Maguire, who made a quick turn and shot left-footed, but it crashed into the side netting.
Eight minutes after the break came the game’s one gilt-edged chance to win it for either side. It was a great move down the right, with some quick and incisive passing from the Lilywhites. Barkhuizen was sent through by Johnson on the right hand side of the box and the No.29 pulled it across the six yard box for Harrop, who, at the back post, should have put the ball in the net from five yards out, but it got caught under his feet and former North Ender Conor McLaughlin cleared for a corner.
The more the second half wore on, the more the visitors were happy with point, getting into tight lines and denying PNE any space to create clear cut openings.
Mavididi, Robinson and Browne were all introduced to try and break the deadlock, but chances were few and far between, with the play never really allowed to flow by the regular shrill of referee Darren Bond’s whistle and despite over six minutes of added time being played, the game ended goalless.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Fisher, Earl Welsh, Huntington (c), Davies, Barkhuizen (Mavididi, 68), Johnson (Robinson, 82), Hugill, Maguire, Harrop (Browne, 60). Subs not used: Hudson, Horgan, Woods, Spurr.
Millwall line-up: Archer, McLaughlin, Meredith, Hutchinson, Williams, Onyedinma (Ferguson, 55), Wallace (romeo, 90), Webster, Morison (c), O’Brien (Tunnicliffe, 85), Saville. Subs not used: Martin, Craig, Romeo, Twardek, Cooper.
Attendance: 12,363 (574 Millwall fans)
Referee: Mr D Bond