Preston North End had to settle for a point at the bet365 Stadium after a goalless draw against Michael O’Neill’s Stoke City.
The second half saw PNE hit the post and also were denied a winner when Harry Souttar brought down Alan Browne when clean through, the defender seeing red, but they were unable to force a late winner.
Greg Cunningham returned from injury alongside fellow Irishman, skipper Browne, as Frankie McAvoy made two changes to the side from the previous fixture in the sunshine on the Potteries.
The game was slow to get going but after the opening 20 minutes it began to come alive. The hosts had a good spell with a brace of corners and a shot blocked from Josh Tymon from 20 yards out. And from the second corner, an inswinger from Sam Clucas, it eventually fell to Tommy Smith, who fired over from the right edge of penalty area.
Shortly after, Ched Evans had a goal ruled out after going through and battling with Rhys Norrington-Davies, beating him and firing in from 18 yards, but James Linigton pulled it back for a foul by the PNE striker.
Just after the half’s mid-point, the best bit of play of the game came as Andrew Hughes, up from the back, played a one-two with Emil Riis and then into Browne, who curled an effort just over the corner of post and bar from the edge of the penalty area.
Wing back Tymon got in behind down the left, only for Daniel Iversen to stand up really big and make an important save, with the follow-up into the side-netting, before Ryan Ledson drilled wide from 25 yards after good build-up play involving Hughes, Cunningham and Browne, with the ball drilled across to the midfielder to strike.
North End’s on-loan goalkeeper made two more stops before half-time, firstly to deny Nick Powell from a shot from 25 yards, and then a fantastic low stop from his own man, as Ben Whiteman cleared off the feet of Christian Norton.
The green-clad Lilywhites started the second half well and a positive run from Barkhuizen, finding Riis 20 yards out, brought a free-kick and a booking for James Chester, but Ben Whiteman’s goalbound effort was well blocked by the Potters’ wall.
On the hour mark, more good wing back play came from Barkhuizen, as Browne sent him down the right and delivered a great cross for Evans, running in, but his header was just over Adam Davies' cross bar.
At the middle point in the second half, North End were an inch away from going ahead. Clucas handled on the edge of the penalty area and the free kick was laid left for Andrew Hughes to hit and he curled around the wall and against the left-hand post, eventually cleared by the home side.
With 12 minutes left, Barkhuizen almost put North End ahead. A dipping half-volley from 25 yards took a little deflection, causing it to drop on Davies, who did extremely well to get down and hold the effort.
Then with three minutes to go, Alan Browne was sent through by substitute Sean Maguire and he was bearing down on goal until Souttar brought him down and saw a straight red card.
It was a free kick and not a penalty right on the edge of the penalty area for the greens. Brown himself drilled the free kick, but it was straight at the wall. It was eventually fed back over by Sepp van den Berg for Browne again, but his first-time shot was wide of the right-hand post from 15 yards to the left of the goal.
In the final second of the game North End broke with Barkhuizen down the right finding Potts and he got in the box and drilled a shot, but it was straight at Davies and both sides had to settle for a point.
Stoke City line-up: Davies, Chester, Obi Mikel (c), Smith, Fletcher (Vokes, 79), Clucas (Thompson, 74), Powell, Tymon (Batth, 89), Souttar, Norton (Brown, 74), Norrington-Davies. Subs not used: Gunn, Batth, Cousins, Coates, Matundo, Taylor.
PNE line-up: Iversen, van den Berg, Storey, Hughes, Barkhuizen, Whiteman, Ledson, Cunningham, Browne, Evans (Potts, 76), Riis (Maguire, 76). Subs not used: Ripley, Bayliss, Molumby, Huntington, Sinclair, Bodin, Gordon.
Referee: Mr J Linington