Preston North End 0-0 Reading: Drab displays at Deepdale as the game ends in stalemate
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Preston North End came away looking like superstars back in November in the reverse fixture against Reading this season, as three second half goals from Scott Sinclair, Brad Potts and Emil Riis Jakobsen were the goal-scorers in a 3-0 rout.

A different game this time around though, as the game ended in no goals with both sides putting up sloppy attacking displays.

Lucas João nearly stole the headlines with an opportunity from 12-yards inside the last ten minutes. A dreadful penalty though saw his attempt wide of the post.

  • Story of the match

The Lilywhites started this game looking like a team who were gunning to play football, as they dominated play inside the first 15 minutes of the match. 

Top goal-scorer Sinclair got the first shot of the match on the board with just 40 seconds on the clock, as his distant effort was parried away from Reading goalie Rafael Cabral

The Royals started this game slow, the creativity on set pieces from John Swift brought them into the game in the first-half, with Swift trying his luck from 30-yards, as he looked to score another cracker similar to his last game out in the 3-0 victory over Coventry City.

The first concrete chance came for Potts, as Jayson Molumby, who was making his first start at Deepdale for Preston today, found Potts inside the area, he touched and turned his body to release an effort on goal, which was drilled over the bar.

Replays showed the Lilywhites were lucky to not give away a penalty, as the ball seemed to strike the arm of Alan Browne inside the area. No appeals came from the players though, and the officials didn't seem to spot it. 

Swift was handed a couple of opportunities on set-pieces as he came close, striking the side-netting. A big chance came around 25 yards out, instead Sone Aluko stepped up and blazed it high into the empty stands, it was safe to say that was his last set-piece in the game.

A mute performance from Reading's top goalscorer  João in the first-half, he nearly created a goal out of nothing though, with him being dragged to the floor, he recovered fantastically by getting back to his feet, dribbling it past two, then finding Josh Laurent who tried to bend it past Iversen, the Danish easily parried away from goal.

The biggest scare for Reading came just before half time. Quick feet from Riis inside the area, as he dribbled through bodies to put a toe on the ball towards Cabral's goal, who made a solid stop as Browne looked to latch onto the rebound, Omar Richards came to the Royal's aid by clearing their lines.

It was a stalemate at the half time whistle, and it's safe to say that's one of the most even half's you'll see all season. 

Reading came out the blocks in the second-half as Ovie Ejaria had a big chance to put them into the lead, his effort nearly caught Iversen out on his inside post. He made the stop though and kept the game level. 

Under a third left of the match and Aluko sent in a dangerous cross from out wide, which met the head of Michael Morrision, it clipped Tom McIntyre on the way through, where Iversen leaped to Preston’s aid to stop the effort. He made a fantastic stop, but the linesman’s flag was displayed for offside anyway.

Joe Rafferty, who came into the side late because Andrew Hughes pulled out with an injury in the warm-up, gave away a penalty in the last ten minutes as he seemed to grapple João to the ground.

A man in-form you think he’d bury this golden opportunity. It really wasn’t the forwards day though, after his dull display, João runs up and sends the ball wide of the post, to keep Preston alive and João in despair.

No chances came in the end though for either side, and Reading have missed a big opportunity to go level on points with second-placed Swansea City and third-placed Watford, as they stay in fifth, whilst Preston stick in tenth.

  • Takeaways

Preston struggle at home again...

In recent weeks, the Lilywhites have seemed to improve their home form winning three of their least four. Today was another frustrating display at Deepdale. 

The attacking threat from Riis, Potts and Sinclair was hardly existent, as they didn't give Cabral a test all game long. 

Another loss could've came though as João's missed penalty late on, gifted Preston a point, and saved them from an eighth loss at Deepdale in the league this season.

Lethal Lucas João was non-existent, bar his penalty miss...

It seemed to be a game-plan that worked well for the Lilywhites, as they kept top goalscorer João, quiet for 90 minutes. 

João had the fantastic opportunity to gift Reading all three points, and bag his 15th league goal of the season. His spot-kick though was something he won't want to see again.

Man of the match

Josh Laurent wins the award, as he seemed to run the midfield for Reading and tried his best to create something for the Royals.

It was probably the toughest decision of the day, with no standout player in this match.​​​​​​​