- English Football League - Championship
- Wednesday, July 22nd 2020
- Ashton Gate
|Preston North End||1|
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 1-1 Preston North End
Wednesday, July 22nd 2020
City closed the curtain on their 2019/20 season with a 1-1 draw at home to Preston North End.
They had to battle back after going 1-0 down at half-time, with the second half more eventful and energy-packed than the opening period.
The hosts fell behind after 15 minutes when Sean Maguire latched on to Daniel Johnson’s backheel, before Paul Gallagher rattled the upright as Interim Head Coach Dean Holden watched his side struggle to get a foothold in the game.
But whatever was said at half-time seemed to shift the men from BS3 up a gear and they were level when Famara Diédhiou swept home his 14th goal of the season.
City played with more fight after the break but would end the campaign with a share of the points against Preston, who they have not been able to beat since 2011.
Holden named three changes with returns to the starting XI for Pedro Pereira, Ádám Nagy and top scorer Diédhiou. They came into the squad ahead of Jack Hunt, Korey Smith and Benik Afobe, respectively. Holden opted to rest midfielder Smith, who had played every minute since the restart, with Tomas Kalas captaining the side. Elsewhere, Hunt was absent due to a minor hamstring injury.
Jamie Paterson, with three goals since the restart, was presented with a chance to break the deadlock after City tried to counter Preston and Nahki Wells was fouled on the edge of the area. Up stepped Paterson to strike the resulting set-piece and it took the fingertips of Declan Rudd to steer the ball over.
That chance aside, the game lacked a certain element in the early moments, perhaps justified with the teams unable to fight for a play-off spot but a well-worked move injected some life into the encounter.
Unfortunately, it came at City’s expense with Johnson’s cheeky backheel proving to be his seventh assist of the season, and Maguire capitalised. Preston were patient in the build-up and when the ball was clipped into Johnson’s path, the former Aston Villa midfielder found Maguire with a delicate flick and the latter took his time before dinking the ball over Bentley.
Paterson saw another sight of goal but dragged a shot wide and it would be City’s passing in the final third which would let them down on more than one occasion when they looked to get forward.
Maguire almost turned from goalscorer to provider though when he picked out Preston captain Paul Gallagher in space, and his ferocious hit bounced off the upright.
It could even have been a second for Maguire but for a fine stop from Bentley just before the break. Again, the visitors were confident in possession and Maguire broke down the right. He played a one-two with Johnson and forced a low shot on goal which Bentley pushed away with a strong right hand and Pereira cleared the danger.
But Alex Neil’s side were up against it immediately into the second half and City were level within minutes. Zak Vyner’s clever chipped pass set Andreas Weimann on his way down the right and he had just enough pace to get a cross away, with the ball diverting into the path of the deadly Diédhiou, who tapped home from close range.
Diédhiou, already presented with the Top Goalscorer award by the Supporters Club & Trust ahead of kick-off, couldn’t miss from close range and his strike meant he would go one better than last season. For Weimann, now operating in a more central midfield role under Holden, that would be the Austrian’s fourth assist in his last five games.
It breathed extra energy into this City side and they could have taken the lead within seven minutes of the restart but Wells was wasteful with a close-range shot which he placed straight at Rudd, while another effort was blazed off target.
Gallagher though would test Bentley from the edge of the area but his dipping effort was tipped over by the City shotstopper.
City were enjoying more of the ball though and the introductions of Filip Benković and Kasey Palmer brought fresh legs into the game, with Pereira and Wells making way. On-field captain Tomas Kalas carved a chance for Wells, before his substitution, but his close-range shot was blocked at the near post. At the other end, Bentley was also called into action with a smart stop to deny Jayden Stockley at his near post as well.
Afobe entered the field in place of Paterson with ten minutes remaining and that would be Holden’s final roll of the dice.
And the loanee from Stoke City came close to snatching a later winner when he met Weimann’s through-ball. The striker did well to keep the ball as he was kept under pressure by his marker and his eventual shot was blocked and gathered.
Brad Potts and Tom Barkhuizen both fired over, while Rudd kept out Afobe’s strong shot deep into stoppage time but neither side would be able to find a late breakthrough in a much-improve second half at Ashton Gate.
The draw means City end the 2019/20 campaign 12th in the table on 63 points.
- Diédhiou (48')
- Pedro Pereira, Jamie Paterson, Nahki Wells
Preston North End
- Maguire (16')
- Josh Harrop, Paul Gallagher, Ryan Ledson, Sean Maguire