Jay Dasilva update
Posted: Thursday, December 17th 2020
|Preston North End||1|
Friday, December 18th 2020
A fortuitous penalty ultimately proved the difference as, despite a spirited second-half display from City, Daniel Johnson’s spot-kick sealed a 1-0 win for Preston North End.
Taylor Moore appeared to nick the ball when Scott Sinclair tumbled under the tackle but Johnson converted from 12 yards in a comfortable first-half for the home side.
However, Dean Holden’s men looked a different outfit after the break and Antoine Semenyo found himself at the heart of City’s attacks but couldn’t earn his side a share of the points at Deepdale.
The 1-0 loss stretches City’s winless run against the Lilywhites to 15 matches but certainly based on their second-half display and a questionable penalty call, will feel hard done by on this occasion.
Zak Vyner and Callum O’Dowda returned to the starting XI as City went in search of festive cheer and three points at Deepdale. Vyner returned in defence, alongside captain Tomas Kalas who recovered from a deadleg, while O’Dowda made up a three-man midfield - Adrian Mariappa and Tyreeq Bakinson moved to the bench. Striker Famara Diédhiou served his suspension after Tuesday night’s sending off but Head Coach Holden named five players from the Under-23s on the bench: Opi Edwards, Ryley Towler, Sam Bell, Zak Smith and Sam Pearson.
City started quite brightly but bar a couple of crosses into the box, their attacking threat still showed room for improvement.
Sinclair, Preston’s top scorer heading into the encounter, forced Bentley into the first save of the evening when he spun past Ádám Nagy and the forward was in the mix for the penalty just after 20 minutes.
The former Celtic man made a good run into the City box and won his side the penalty when Moore stuck a foot out. Referee Geoff Eltringham initially gave advantage but the hosts, after hitting the post in the same attack, saw play brought back for the spot and Johnson dispatched the set-piece confidentially.
Replays suggested that through Moore’s lunge the centre-back got a crucial toe to take the ball away from Sinclair but the referee may not have been able to judge the contact at speed.
A lapse in concentration from Vyner then allowed Sean Maguire in behind as Preston looked to double their lead, but Kalas got back to make the tackle. City’s leader would have the Robins’ best chance when he reached O’Dowda’s free kick at the far-post but his contact was blocked by a defender.
Preston’s dominance in the air showed as they dealt with balls into the box, but fortunately for the visitors, they were unable to capitalise despite a succession of corner as the first half progressed.
Holden looked to his bench at half-time with a double change in the form of Semenyo and Tyreeq Bakinson on to replace Moore and Han-Noah Massengo. It meant a change of shape too and City looked good, more energetic and Semenyo’s header forced Declan Rudd into a first stop of the night minutes after the restart.
But City were looking better value and only a good save from Rudd’s fingertips denied O’Dowda, before Semenyo flashed off target after good build-up play.
The Robins had the home side on the backfoot but with time running out they were still keen to find an equaliser, with the wide areas proving City’s friend. Bakinson’s through ball to Hunt was perfect and the right-back’s low delivery found Semenyo at the near-post but his shot was off target, before another Hunt cross found the head of O’Dowda who was denied by the outstretched Rudd once more.
Tom Bayliss and Jayden Stockley fired high and wide as the home side wasted the minimal chances late on, but Emil Riis had the best opportunity to double the lead for Alex Neil’s side. It came on the counter attack with Sinclair charging forward, he passed the ball into the feet of the supporting Riis but his low shot was tipped wide by Bentley.
Still City continued to press but couldn’t find a way through after five minutes of added time, but they will take positives from an encouraging second half. The squad now get ready for the visit of Wycombe Wanderers at Ashton Gate next Saturday (December 26th, 3pm KO), live on Robins TV.
Photography by JMPUK.