Preston North End 1-0 Bristol City: Johnson penalty sinks Robins
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Bristol City were looking to avoid their third consecutive defeat, having lost to Milwall and Rotherham United in the past week. 

Striker Nahki Wells was hoping to take advantage against a Preston North End team who had the worst defensive record in the Championship.

Their opponents, Preston, hadn't had their desired season and had also lost their last two games, but Alex Neil's men were looking for their eight win of the campaign.

Preston were missing a key player in Ben Pearson, the tough tackling midfielder had suffered an ankle injury prior against Wycombe Wanderers, which was a huge blow to North End's chances.

  • Team news

Preston: Rudd; Fisher, Huntington, Davies, Earl, Gallagher, Browne, Barkhuizen, Johnson, Sinclair, Maguire.

Bristol City: Bentley; Moore, Kalas, Vyner, Hunt, O'Dowda, Rowe, Nagy, Massengo, Wells, Martin.

  • Story of the match

Bristol City haven't managed to defeat Preston since 2011, so Dean Holden was hoping to alter his side's fortunes.

Scott Sinclair was the first to have a sniff of goal, as he fed on the scraps of Sean Maguire but his strike was wayward.

However referee Geoff Eltringham gave Preston a huge opportunity, as Sinclair latched onto Paul Gallagher's pass and was fouled by Taylor Moore - allowing Daniel Johnson to gratefully convert from the spot.

Moore looked to make up for his error, but his back post volley lacked accuracy and was cleared out by a desperate North End defence.

On the brink of half time and Sinclair nearly doubled Preston's lead, as he volleyed Tom Barkuizen's deep cross but Daniel Bentley was able to parry his effort.

Going into the second half and Holden made a double change, as Antoine Semenyo, who's got six assists this campaign, and Tyreeq Bakinson entered the frame for Moore and Noah Massengo.

Semenyo nearly had an immediate impact, as Jack Hunt's cross to the back post was nodded by the youngster, but Declan Rudd was equal to it.

City continued their search for an equaliser, as Wells slotted the ball into Callum O'Dowda who forced an acrobatic stop from Rudd.

Semenyo had another opportunity as he latched onto a low cross from Hunt but his flick didn't blossom the Preston goal.

The one way traffic continued into the closing stages, as Hunt's teasing crosses continued and O'Dowda's header was fantastically kept out by Rudd.

Preston finally had their first chance of the second half, as Sinclair drove forward and played Emil Riis Jakobsen in behind, but his curling effort was forced around the post by Bentley.

  • Takeaways

Worst defence stands strong

Preston have conceded the most amount of goals this season, 30 and two more than their closest competitors Wycombe, but tonight looked defensively solid against a dangerous attack consisting of Wells, Chris Martin and Semenyo who looked hungry when he came on. But Paul Huntington and Ben Davies looked composed and organised at the back, with the help of young defenders such as Darnell Fisher and Josh Earl, it worked with the two more experienced centre-halves alongside the younger full-backs who will be more likely to push forward.

The Semenyo effect

When Semenyo was subbed on for Moore, he changed Bristol City's attacking outlet. Wells and Martin hadn't had a sniff of goal in the first half, but Semenyo coming on seemed to refresh the outlook of the game. Fans complained that Semenyo hadn't started on social media, and it proved why. He looked pacey and eager for the ball, had the majority of the chances in the second half and did more in 45 minutes than Wells and Martin did in 90 combined.

  • Stand out player

Alan Browne​​​​​​​

Former Cork City midfielder Alan Browne has now been at Preston since 2013, and has become quite the stalwart under Neil. Browne controlled the midfield and spread the play wide, linking up nicely with Gallagher and Johnson, who were both very good,  but also having excellent vision to consistently pick out Sinclair and Barkhuizen on the wings.