Preston North End had to settle for a point from their final game of a busy week, after battling out a goalless draw with Martin O’Neill’s Nottingham Forest at Deepdale.
Manager Alex Neil opted to go with the same 18 that had turned out against then league leaders Norwich City in the week, with Paul Gallagher again skippering the young side, this meant only only change had been made in the last six games.
In a similar vein to the previous games, it was the Lilywhites who got off to a blistering start and were unlucky not to be ahead six minutes in when Tom Barkhuizen threaded Darnell Fisher through into the right-hand side of the penalty area. The No.2 got to the byline and drilled a ball across, that Brad Potts got something on, but Costel Pantilimon in the visitors’ goal, in front of the Alan Kelly Town End, managed to somehow smother the ball away for one of a flurry of early PNE corners.
But after a promising start the visitors had the better of the next half an hour, with more possession and capitalising on some loose play, with Daryl Murphy and Lewis Grabban both going close – in fact the latter had the ball in the net, only to be denied by an offside flag just after the half hour mark. And with 90 seconds left in the half the Forest top scorer was denied again, this time by Rudd, after he had broken into space behind the North End backline.
A change at half-time saw Jayden Stockley on for Gallagher and a change in formation as well, with two up front for the Lilywhites, Maguire playing alongside the man brought into the action for the second period.
On 63 minutes the big Forest goalkeeper made a superb stop to deny Potts on the volley at the back post, after a flick on from Stockley from Fisher’s deep cross from the right-hand side. The effort came through Alexander Milosevic and thus made it very difficult for the visiting stopper, who made an excellent block to keep the scores level.
A double change followed this attempt, with Johnson and Nmecha on for Maguire and Barkhuizen as the manager looked to add a fresh impetus to his side’s attacking threat, but despite the best efforts of the side and even a last second free kick that saw Browne head over Johnson’s cross from the left, the game remained goalless.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Hughes, Pearson, Storey, Davies, Potts, Gallagher (c) (Stockley, 46), Maguire (Nmecha, 64), Browne, Barkhuizen (Johnson, 64). Subs not used: Crowe, Earl, Clarke, Ledson.
Nottingham Forest line-up: Pantilimon, Colback (c), Grabban, Murphy (Carvalho, 71), Osborn, Milosevic, Robinson, Yates, Lolley, Darikwa, Benalouane. Subs not used: Steele, Wague, Gonclaves, Jacob, Pele, Bonatini.
Attendance: 13,904 (1,913 Nottingham Forest fans)
Referee: Mr T Robinson