Cardiff and Preston draw a blank as goals elude them both again


Preston North End secured an amazing fifth goalless draw of the season at the Cardiff City Stadium, as the Bluebirds also failed to find the net for the third game in succession.

Home boss Steve Morison had reacted swiftly during the week following a bizarre injury crisis which has seen left backs Joel Bagan and Jamilu Collins pick up early knocks in successive games. We therefore saw Niels Nkounkou on the Cardiff bench on loan from Everton.

Kion Etete was another victim of recent jury misfortune for the Bluebirds. Exciting Welsh youngster Rubin Colwill was given his first start of the season. Club captain Joe Ralls also returned to the starting XI.

Former Bluebird Greg Cunningham started for the yellow shirted Lilywhites while former Wales stars Ben Woodburn and Ched Evans were other familiar names to the South Wales public in the visitors’ squad.

The home side made a bright start with Callum O’Dowda pushing forward in an unfamiliar left back role. It was midfielder Ryan Wintle who brought the first gasps from the home crowd, firing narrowly past former Newcastle United keeper Freddie Woodman on six minutes.

Loose play at the back from the Welsh club almost put PNE striker Troy Parrott clear but a sharp intervention from Perry Ng saved Bluebirds’ blushes.

The home side’s eagerness to play pretty football was giving North End chances to pinch possession as the Cardiff defence suffered moments of uncertainty.

Colwill tried to engineer some magic with twists and turns and we also saw Max Watters blaze a chance wide. Liam Lindsay and his fellow defenders seemed capable of repelling Cardiff’s huffing and puffing with ease though as Woodman was rarely called into action.

Ralls and Wintle each shot well past the former England under-21 stopper as the game limped towards the interval with the score goalless. The visitors had been untroubled at the back but offered little up top. Visiting boss Ryan Lowe made a tactical switch on 36 minutes, introducing the dangerous Emil Riis Jakobsen.

Nkounko replaced O’Dowda at half time in a change that was hard to understand perhaps.

The Bluebirds had a penalty shout as the game restarted but referee Andy Woolmer failed to be moved by the contact between the arm of Lindsay and Colwill’s curling effort.

Colwill continued to look the most enterprising of the Cardiff attackers but that final ball wasn’t quite finding the man, or at least, not one able to capitalise on it.

Ralls hit the woodwork as Morison’s men began to look more threatening. The home fans in the crowd of 17,922 sensed the increased effort and raised the volume levels.

Ralls became an increasing threat for Cardiff, pushing into the box to seize on any loose ball.

Woodburn and Ali McCann joined the fray on the hour mark.

The game had a slightly more purposeful feel to it now but we continued to await a goal.

Max Watters chased hard up front for Cardiff but was unable to find himself in the right spot. Parrott led the line with enthusiasm for the visitors.

Mark Harris and Andy Rinomhota stepped up from the Cardiff bench as Colwill continued to look the most likely man to bring about a break in the deadlock. Harris enjoyed a lively afternoon tussling with Jordan Storey and Brad Potts down the left hand side.

Evans replaced Parrott to become the fourth Welsh international on the pitch.

Preston almost grabbed a late winner as Cédric Kipré turned the ball against his own post but the Bluebirds survived the resulting melee.

Sheyi Ojo replaced the impressive Colwill as Morison sought that one breakthrough which you sensed would prove to be decisive.

Nkounko almost made it a debut to remember in the 93rd minute but his neat footwork and rasping shot failed to find a way past Woodman.

With goals for both sides being some of a rarity this season, this score line was probably always on the cards.

Cardiff had enjoyed the best of a game which grew in excitement as the afternoon progressed but in the end, the 0-0 outcome came as little surprise.

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