Preston North End had to settle for a point against Lee Bowyer's Birmingham City at St Andrew's, extending their unbeaten run to eight games with a goalless draw in the Midlands.
It was a fifth successive league game without a change for Frankie McAvoy, who would have been disappointed one of the very good first half chances didn't give his side the lead.
The first half was lively and full of chances, despite being goalless. It was the hosts who created the first real opportunity, a Troy Deeney header at the back post after Dion Sanderson’s cross from the right, the ball deflecting off the outside of the right-hand upright.
But PNE came into the game and created the best of the opportunities in the next few minutes. Firstly, Sean Maguire closed down Birmingham stopper Matija Sarkic, got in a block and the ball looped over the 'keeper, but it was an inch over the bar and fell onto the roof of the net.
Moments later, it was a brilliant save from Sarkic to deny Josh Earl after great strength from Emil Riis to hold up and feed the wing back into the box, who fired hard and low right-footed towards the bottom right corner until the Blues goalkeeper’s intervention.
It was the turn of North End’s goalkeeper Daniel Iversen to make a fine save on 11 minutes, preventing a goal with his legs to save from Tahith Chong, who had exchanged a one-two with Ivan Sunjic on the edge of the penalty area to create some space to shoot left-footed.
Maguire was a threat again, driving an effort across the face of goal after a clever ball through from Ben Whiteman, following a quick exchange of passes by the Lilywhites from front to back.
Sarkic then made a fine save to deny Riis, who ran through on goal onto an excellent ball from Sepp van den Berg, who had robbed Jeremie Bela and threaded it through to the Dane.
Earl, who went close in the first half, had the first opportunity of the second period, a deflected low shot put behind for a corner. A second followed and a huge shout went up for handball against Harlee Dean, but referee Matthew Donohue saw nothing wrong.
PNE set up camp in the Blues' penalty area in the first few minutes of the half, with a number of corners and long throw ins, and Bowyer’s men were unable to get out under the pressure. However, their defence held strong under the threats and on the counter went close themselves; Bela’s left-wing cross cleared firstly by Whiteman off the line and then the follow up from Colin was superbly saved by Iversen.
Both sides made a brace of changes, Deeney and Scott Hogan replaced by Lukas Jutkiewicz and former PNE loanee Chuks Aneke for the hosts, and Ali McCann and Josh Murphy on for Ben Whiteman and Sean Maguire for Frankie McAvoy’s reds, with 20 minutes left.
However, the closing stages became a bit of a battle, with both sides cancelling each other out for most of it, and despite their best efforts to get a winner, North End had to settle for another hard fought away point.
Birmingham City line-up: Sarkic,Colin, Friend, Woods, Chong, Hogan (Aneke, 67), Bela, Dean (c), Sanderson, Sunjic, Deeney (Jutkiewicz, 68). Subs not used: Trueman, Graham, Chang, Oakley.
PNE line-up: Iversen, Storey, Bauer, Hughes, van den Berg, Whiteman (McCann, 70), Ledson, Earl, Johnson (c) (Potts, 88), Maguire (Murphy, 70), Riis. Subs not used: Rudd, Cunningham, Huntington, Sinclair.
Attendance: 14,925 (1,188 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr M Donhoue