Preston North End 0-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • October 31, 2015 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton moved off the foot of the Championship table on Saturday, after their first meeting with Preston North End in 14 years ended in a goalless draw.

Memories of the famous play-off final success of 2001 came flooding back prior to kick-off, as Wanderers supporters looked forward to going head-to-head with their Lancashire neighbours. But a lacklustre 90 minutes at Deepdale failed to deliver on the pre-match hype.

The game's major talking point arrived with 26 minutes on the clock, as Max Clayton, who had been recalled to the starting line-up, was hauled down by North End's Calum Woods as he closed down on goal. Despite appearing to commit a professional foul, referee Dean Whitestone produced a very lenient yellow card when the majority inside the ground were expecting red.

Following Rotherham United's defeat at Derby County earlier in the day, Neil Lennon's side had moved up one place to 23rd prior to kick-off and the Wanderers boss named a team showing four changes from last weekend's draw with Leeds United.

Neil Danns and Gary Madine both dropped to the substitutes' bench, while Mark Davies missed out with an Achilles injury and Prince-Desir Gouano was suspended. Replacing them were Dorian Dervite, Jay Spearing, Max Clayton and Shola Ameobi.

Bolton started on the front foot, with Ameobi forcing Preston 'keeper Jordan Pickford into an early save from a Spearing corner, while Preston's first attempt arrived when Joe Garner shot straight at Ben Amos on the quarter-hour.

Liam Feeney brought Pickford into action as the game approached the 20-minute mark, although the assistant referees' flag had been raised for offside in any case, before Ameobi misjudged a header from an inswinging Spearing free-kick, with the ball striking his shoulder on its way over the crossbar.

Preston soon had the ball at the other end of the field, with Daniel Johnson seeing a goalbound header blocked by his own man, before the game's biggest talking point arrived when Clayton was bundled over by Woods on the edge of the North End box.

Television replays clearly showed Woods was the last defender as Clayton closed in on goal but the referee opted to brandish a yellow card, much to the dismay of Wanderers players and their coaching staff on the sidelines.

Jose Manuel Casado fired high into the stands from the resulting free-kick, moments before expert defending from David Wheater denied Johnson on two separate occasions as he put his body on the line.

Feeney came close to firing the visitors ahead just after the half-hour, only to lose his footing at the vital moment, in a move which ended with Darren Pratley entering the book for a poorly-time challenge.

Greg Cunningham was afforded too much time and space as the half drew to a close, but his deflected shot was comfortable for Amos as the two sides went in level at the break.

There were no changes to either side at the start of the second half, in which the first shooting chance resulted in Spearing firing over the top from a dangerous free-kick position just outside the Preston box.

With both midfields dominating possession, there was little in terms of goalmouth action as the game moved towards the final 20 minutes - although there was a short period where Bolton were reduced to nine men after Ameobi and Feeney both received treatment for injuries.

Despite returning to the field, Ameobi, who appeared to fall awkwardly on his left knee, was replaced by Madine with 16 minutes to go.

Amos was called into action once play had resumed, keeping out a dipping shot from Johnson, before the same player was left bemoaning the decision making of teammate Jordan Hugill, whose tame shot rolled straight into the arms of the Bolton goalkeeper when he had players better placed either side.

A short break in play saw Danns replace Spearing for the final 10 minutes, while the hosts made a double change as Neil Kilkenny and Paul Huntington came on for Alan Browne and Marnick Vermijl.

Derik Osede was the next man to depart, with Francesco Pisano taking his place, moments before Pickford produced the save of the evening to deny Madine, whose expert control and shot was heading into the bottom corner but for the intervention of the Preston stopper.

Pickford wasn't quite as convincing when next called into action, flapping at a cross from Feeney, but there were no Bolton forwards gambling on the mistake and another big chance went missing.

Preston won a succession of corners inside four minutes of added on time for stoppages, but there was no way through the duo of Wheater and Dervite as Bolton recorded a first clean sheet in seven outings. The more pressing concern, however, is their blank in front of goal is now their ninth of the campaign from just 15 games in all competitions.

Lennon's side return to action on Tuesday, when they make the long journey to Ipswich Town, before playing host to fellow strugglers Bristol City next Saturday.

Preston North End: Pickford, Vermijl (Huntington 81), Woods, Wright, Cunningham, Reach, Browne (Kilkenny 81), Gallagher, Johnson, Garner, Doyle (Hugill 62)
Subs Not Used: Keane, Welsh, May, Kirkland
Booked: Woods

Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Osede (Pisano 83), Dervite, Wheater, Casado, Spearing (Danns 80), Vela, Pratley, Clayton, Ameobi (Madine 74), Feeney
Subs Not Used: Rachubka, Heskey, Twardzik, Woolery
Booked: Pratley

Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 14,494

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
6 Cambridge United 3 6
7 Derby County 3 6
8 Bolton Wanderers 3 5
9 Portsmouth 3 5
10 Accrington Stanley 3 5
View Full Standings >>


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