Preston North End played out a 0-0 draw against Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon.
In truth it was probably a fair result, but North End will look back at a couple of chances that fell Sean Maguire’s way in the first half.
Maguire denied by the woodwork
Seani Maguire partnered Emil Riis up front again, and looked the sharper of the two especially in the first half.
Daniel Johnson was able to pick him out a few times with some lovely balls, and Maguire hit one of those with his left foot which beat the ‘keeper but bounced back off the crossbar.
He had a few other chances as well, but once Riis was taken off, Maguire struggled to get into the game.
Negative subs from Frankie
The game was there to be won.
It was 0-0 with 20 minutes left and PNE had the opportunity to take the initiative with some positive subs. Alan Browne and new signing Ali McCann came on for a disappointed Ryan Ledson and, surprisingly, Emil Riis. It left Maguire isolated up front on his own with minimal support.
McAvoy chose to tighten up rather than push for the win. He could have brought on Josh Murphy earlier to try and stretch the defence, or leave Riis on who remains our most likely scorer.
Instead he was happy to take the point and put the ball in Bristol City’s court to see if they could force a goal in the last few minutes. The only thing McAvoy could have been hoping for from an attacking point of view would be a counter attack, but it wasn’t to be.
McCann and Murphy debuts
Both new signings were introduced as second half substitutes but had little time to impress. McCann played a bit further up than expected with Browne dropping behind. He was also on corners which gives the side another option from set pieces.
Murphy joined Maguire up front but at that point PNE weren’t really focusing on the attack, rather choosing to sit back and hold onto a clean sheet. Murphy will have a lot of competition in this squad with the current formation played.
Ched Evans, Scott Sinclair, and Tom Barkhuizen were all absent from the squad on Saturday, and McAvoy will find it tough to keep them all happy with their playing time this season.
Tougher challenges to come
Six games into the season, and North End sit 13th in the table with seven points. They haven’t really faced a side that you would consider to be challenging at the business end of the table though.
On Tuesday they travel to Bramall Lane to face a Sheffield United side who won 6-2 against Peterborough United on Saturday. They’ve had a slow start to the season, but certainly have the potential to run riot against plenty of teams this season.
After that, PNE welcome Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson to Deepdale next Saturday. They are unbeaten so far this season, and are one of the favourites to gain promotion. Whilst North End have got two clean sheets from their last three league games, they will have their work cut out against The Baggies.
DJ such a key player
Daniel Johnson returned from international duty to captain the side again on Saturday. He showed his worth to the team again in that number 10 role. On the edge of the area he is superb with his passing.
He picked out the attackers with some great vision numerous times. He remains our most creative player in that role, and hopefully we can see a similar season this time round to the 19/20 campaign which saw him finish as top scorer.