- English Football League - Championship
- Saturday, March 2nd 2019
|Preston North End||1|
James Crawley reports from Deepdale
Report: Preston North End 1-1 Bristol City
Saturday, March 2nd 2019
Famara Diédhiou’s close-range strike ensured a hard-fought point on the road to Preston North End.
Lee Johnson’s side had to fight from behind after Daniel Johnson blasted the Lilywhites ahead just before half-time at Deepdale.
But in a better second-half showing from the visitors, inspired by the introduction of Antoine Semenyo, they grabbed an equaliser through Diédhiou in front of the travelling 700-strong away support.
The Robins improved and could have gone in front on the counter, but Diédhiou would be denied, as was Semenyo who went close to picking out the top corner.
Max O’Leary replaced Niki Mäenpää late on, with the former Finland stopper having only returned to the starting XI from injury in recent weeks.
However the young O’Leary made the important stops to keep Preston at bay as City secured the point to stay sixth in the Sky Bet Championship.
Head Coach Johnson made three changes for the trip to the North West, two of those at full-back with Jack Hunt and Lloyd Kely starting ahead of Eros Pisano and Jay Dasilva, respectively. Jamie Paterson was also given the nod ahead of Kasey Palmer.
In fairness to City they were putting some neat passing moves together in their build-up play and went closest first when Callum O’Dowda’s low cross was poked wide by Paterson.
The Lilywhites would always be a handful though, high on confidence from their unbeaten run, but they couldn’t capitalise from a Mäenpää error. The keeper came to claim the ball from a Preston corner but was a relieved man to see Andrew Hughes head over the bar.
Diédhiou and Sean Maguire both rifled shots off target, as did Paterson whose second sight on goal rattled the left stanchion, rather than the back of the net.
It had been a scrappy start to the match in an overcast Preston and the hosts were easing into this tie. Alan Browne headed over from Paul Gallagher’s free kick, but soon after won a free kick himself, with Lloyd Kelly booked for a late lunge on the Preston man.
Close to the byline, left of goal, captain Gallagher’s low drive found Johnson who rifled his 15-yard shot into the roof of the net to give the hosts a 1-0 half-time lead.
Approaching ten minutes after the restart and Lee Johnson made his first change of the game with O’Dowda now on a booking for an aerial challenge, replaced by Semenyo; the young forward making only his second ever appearance for City.
Jay Dasilva replaced the booked Kelly soon after as City started to attack through the middle. Semenyo got himself a sight of goal, picking up a pass from Weimann and his shot deflected inches wide, although Dasilva had been an unmarked option wide to his left.
But the striker was involved and was almost involved in the equaliser. Again City came through the middle, he laid the ball into Josh Brownhill who rather fortuitously found Paterson on the edge of the area but the City number 20 couldn’t steer an effort on goal.
It was more encouraging from the Robins but just as their tails were up, Johnson was forced into a third and final change when Mäenpää had to be replaced by O’Leary between the sticks.
The Lilywhites surged forward once play resumed, finding space down the left with Johnson and his low cross picked out Brad Potts whose effort was bravely blocked, with Browne fired wide on the turn shortly after.
But City had been better in this half and got the equalising goal they deserved shortly after. It came from a Brownhill corner, with Marlon Pack guiding the ball into the path of Diédhiou who smashed the ball beyond Declan Rudd from close range.
Rudd wouldn’t allow Semenyo to put City ahead though when his strong hand was equal to the striker’s fierce half-volley, after good work involving Andreas Weimann and Diédhiou.
The game opened up as the match neared its course with bot sides eyeing the full three points. Lukas Nmecha went on a strong run but a low shot was easy work for O’Leary’s first save of the afternoon, while on the break Diédhiou saw a close-range shot blocked.
Again O’Leary was well-placed to prevent a late Preston winner when Ryan Ledson’s cross found Jayden Stockley but he could only steer the ball straight at the City shotstopper from close range, while Nmecha’s dipping effort not long after sailed over.
The Lilywhites huffed and puffed late, forcing the Robins to defend deep into stoppage time with Jack Hunt swooping across to swing the ball away at the vital moment just seconds before the full-time whistle.
City return to league action on Saturday (March 9th, 3pm KO) when they host Leeds United at Ashton Gate.
Preston North End
- Johnson (42')
- Paul Gallagher, Brad Potts, Daniel Johnson
- Diedhiou (69')
- Niki Mäenpää, Lloyd Kelly, Callum O'Dowda