11 July 2020 18:30
Preston North End starting XI: Rudd; Rafferty, Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Pearson, Johnson, Potts; Sinclair, Maguire, Stockley. Preston North End substitutes: Ripley, Fisher, Storey, Ledson, Gallagher, Harrop, Bodin, Barkhuizen, Nugent. Preston go with Declan Rudd in goal, behind a back four of Joe Rafferty, Patrick Bauer, Ben Davies and Andrew Hughes. Ben Pearson, Daniel Johnson and Brad Potts line up in midfield, with Johnson handed the captain's armband with Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne not in the starting line up. Browne misses out with a thigh injury, and the onus will be on Scott Sinclair and Seani Maguire to support Jayden Stockley in the Preston attack.
Connor Ripley, Darnell Fisher, Jordan Storey, Ryan Ledson, Josh Harrop, Billy Bodin, Tom Barkhuizen and David Nugent join Gallagher on the bench today. Alex Neil has moved away from the 3-5-2 he used in midweek, which some fans won't be happy with despite questioning Neil's logic in making that decision in the first place. Squad rotation is key right now, and that may have played into Neil's thinking, as will the change of system. This could yet be a 4-4-2, with Potts operating on the right and Sinclair on the left, with Maguire working around Stockley in attack. North End looked dangerous with two strikers against Wednesday, so it can't be ruled out today in another system change.
The game was full of intensity and attacking intent from the off and before the first 60 seconds were up Maguire put over a cross from the left and Stockley flicked a header backwards, over Brice Samba but just over the bar from 15 yards out. However, the visitors were in front after only five minutes, when referee Jeremy Simpson pointed to the spot for a foul by Ben Pearson on Nuna Da Costa; Grabban firing from 12 yards out into the bottom left hand corner – sending Declan Rudd the wrong way – for his 20th goal of the season. But this just saw North End push harder and they saw a 12th minute effort from an Andrew Hughes shot cleared off the line, after a Joe Rafferty corner from the right won by Potts. And on 15 minutes they were level, when Rafferty played a clever ball from the right to free Potts, who drove a cross over from the right-edge of the penalty area and Stockley slid home from six yards out to level matters. The Lilywhites suffered a blow either side of half-time, losing Ben's Davies (first half) and Pearson (half-time) through injury with Jordan Storey and Ryan Ledson replacing them. Just three minutes into the second half, Ben Watson conceded a corner that Ledson delivered, with a powerful header from Patrick Bauer, only for the Nottingham Forest No.8 to again be involved, this time blocking it on the line, with Samba beaten. In the 19th minute of the second half there was a gilt-edged chance to go ahead as Stockley flicked on perfectly for Potts, who ran into the box, only for the visiting skipper Michael Dawson to get across and make a superb block and push the ball behind for a corner. Josh Harrop and Paul Gallagher replaced Johnson and Stockley in the final ten minutes as the Lilywhites went in search of a winner. Gallagher almost had an immediate impact with a ball over the top for Maguire, who got away from Dawson and from a tight angle, arrowed a shot in, that Samba just managed to get a toe on to direct out for a corner. In the first minute of added on time, a brilliant block denied Barkhuizen, after a reverse pass from Harrop sent him into the box and he side-stepped a defender until Worrall somehow got in the way with his face to push the ball wide, which was heading for the bottom corner. Preston North End line-up: Rudd, Rafferty, Hughes, Pearson (Ledson, 46), Bauer, Davies (Storey, 44), Potts, Johnson (c) (Gallagher, 82), Stockley (Harrop, 83), Maguire, Sinclair (Barkhuizen, 64). Subs not used: Ripley, Fisher, Nugent, Bodin. Nottingham Forest line-up: Samba, Riberio, Worrall, Grabban, Watson, Costa (Mighten, 82), Jenkinson, Ameobi (Diakhaby, 89), Dawson (c), Sow (Silva, 68), Yates. The result left Preston two points outside the play-off positions. Jayden Stockley cancelled out a Lewis Grabban penalty as play-off chasers Preston and Nottingham Forest fought out a tense 1-1 draw in the Sky Bet Championship. Grabban struck after just five minutes of what became a tight battle at Deepdale once Stockley had levelled just 10 minutes later. Preston had the better chances as they pushed for a second-half winner but Patrick Bauer, Stockley and Tom Barkhuizen all had efforts blocked by Forest bodies. The result left Preston two points outside the play-off positions, having missed a chance to draw back level with sixth-placed Cardiff. With three games remaining, however, they still have a chance. Fifth-placed Forest had arrived hoping to shore up their play-off position with a victory but, after long spells under pressure, they settled for a point. Preston had an early chance when Sean Maguire headed over but it was Forest who struck first after Ben Pearson was adjudged to have pushed Nuno Da Costa as he jinked through the box. Preston disputed referee Jeremy Simpson's decision but Grabban took full advantage, calmly sending Declan Rudd the wrong way for his 20th goal of the season. Forest were caught out by some tidy one-touch passing and Brad Potts slid in a low ball from the right and Stockley finished from in front of goal. A tight first half ensued with chances at a premium although Sammy Ameobi, who was wasteful with an earlier free-kick, went close with a dipping shot over the Preston bar. Preston suffered a double blow before the break as Ben Davies was forced off injured and Pearson was left limping following a heavy collision with team-mate Maguire. He did not return for the second half either but Preston coped well, with Potts firing narrowly over before Bauer had a bullet header blocked on the line by Ben Watson. Another good chance fell to Potts just after the hour as Stockley flicked on a long ball from Rudd but Carl Jenkinson made an even greater defensive intervention to block his goalbound shot. Forest almost made the most of that reprieve but Ameobi again narrowly missed the target with another dangerous-looking effort. Preston squandered another good chance soon after when substitute Barkhuizen missed his kick in front of goal from a Maguire flick. Preston pushed to the end but Barkhuizen missed out again when another Forest player in Michael Dawson managed to get in the way of a goalbound shot.