Preston North End fought hard to earn a point at Vicarage Road as they drew 0-0 with Watford.
The Hornets came away frustrated as their talented frontline struggled to break through The Lilywhites defence who made it three clean sheets in five games.
5 games unbeaten
Three weeks ago Preston were comprehensively beaten by this year’s champions elect; Burnley. They then headed into their next game at home to Deepdale aiming to avoid becoming the first ever Preston side to lose six home games in a row.
They succeeded after a Troy Parrott penalty rescued a point against Luton Town. They have remained unbeaten in the next four games after that, winning one and drawing the others.
Any Preston fan would have taken a five game unbeaten run after that game at Turf Moor. The performance on the pitch has gradually got better. We have looked more solid at the back and in the last two games we have shown a bit more creativity although the goals are still yet to flow.
More organised structure
Watford have players in Ismaila Sarr, Joao Pedro, Yaser Asprilla, Keinan Davis and Britt Assombalonga who can punish any team at this level.
Preston had to be sharp and focused for the full 90 minutes. Watford did have their chances but North End defended well with Bambo Diaby again particularly important in the back line.
Aside from one loss of possession when he ventured forward he won his key battles and was a rock in that defence. Greg Cunningham also played well and put forward a case to have his contract renewed.
Freddie Woodman celebrated his 26th birthday with a third clean sheet in five and his 15th shutout of the season.
Watford lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch
In the second half, the returning Ben Whiteman expertly brought the ball out of a tricky situation in defence but a lovely ball forward split the defence and found Troy Parrott.
The Spurs loanee had space ahead of him but Ryan Porteous came across and appeared to take him out. Replays confirmed the Watford defender did indeed miss the ball and only made contact with the player. If the referee had seen it correctly a red card would probably have followed and would have seen Preston with a great chance of claiming all three points.
Ninth 0-0 of the season makes you think ‘what if?’
At the start of the season the 0-0 score line was becoming all too familiar for Ryan Lowe’s side. Five out of the first six games ended without any goals and Preston had great chances to win all those games.
The last two 0-0’s against Coventry City and Watford saw a few chances for both sides but again North End could easily have nicked either match.
If we had managed to score in just three of those nine stalemates we’d find ourselves two points off the play-offs. Any more and we could be well in the mix.
However the story has been the same all season. We’ve struggled to create chances ever since that run at the start of the season and throughout we’ve found it hard to finish the opportunities.
Three goals from open play in the last 13 games
Whilst there has been an improvement in the last two games the strikers haven’t had much to feed on this season.
Luckily we’ve done well from set pieces and also scored two penalties in the last five games.
Goals from open play in the aftermath of the 4-1 win against Blackburn Rovers in December have come through Ryan Ledson at Birmingham City, Ched Evans at home to Bristol City and Tom Cannon at home to Wigan Athletic.
We’ve needed more from our midfielders and attackers and you can see that they are lacking confidence as well. Shots are snatched at and with not much left to play for this season hopefully they can relax a little bit and the goals can start flowing again.