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League 1 Fixture
Pompey 0 Preston 0 by Neil Weld at Fratton Park
Izale McLeod missed a penalty to deny Pompey their first victory in almost two months.
The striker won the spot-kick himself, but saw his effort strike the woodwork early in the first half.
There were few clear-cut chances for either save, although both goalkeepers made decent stops just before the interval.
Guy Whittingham made two changes from the side that drew at Tranmere seven days earlier.
Jake Jervis made his first Blues start, replacing an ill Paul Benson up front, while Scott Allan returned to the starting line-up with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing dropping to the bench.
Pompey had plenty of possession early on and a great opportunity came to nothing when Jervis was unable to pick out the well-placed McLeod.
Darel Russell then muscled his way into a shooting position just inside the box, but his effort curled away from the target.
It looked like the Blues would break the deadlock on 14 minutes when McLeod went down in the area under pressure from Chris Robertson, the linesman flagged and referee Dean Whitestone pointed to the spot.
But for the second home game in succession, McLeod failed from 12 yards. He got plenty of power behind his penalty, but the ball cannoned back off the crossbar.
Preston started to look more dangerous as the half progressed and Simon Eastwood got down sharply to keep out Joel Byrom’s shot on 24 minutes.
At the other end, Pompey were unable to take advantage after winning a couple of free-kicks in dangerous positions.
The driving rain was not helping the quality of the game, but Thorsten Stuckmann had to be at his best to palm clear Jervis’ fierce strike from distance on 39 minutes.
Another long-range effort – this time a finely-struck free-kick from Allan – was then tipped over the bar by the Lilywhites keeper.
But it looked like the Blues might go in behind at the break when Byrom skipped into the box.
His effort was deflected into the path of Anthony Elding, but the striker’s shot was well saved by Eastwood, who then recovered quickly to deny Chris Beardsley from point-blank range.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Preston 0
The second half did not pick off where the first had ended, although Eastwood made a comfortable save to keep out Beardsley’s shot.
Gabor Gyepes then brought Jeffrey Monakana’s mazy run to an end with a fine tackle just inside the box.
But those were the only noteworthy incident in an otherwise turgid opening 15 minutes.
Whittingham brought Mendez-Laing on for Jervis just past the hour mark in an attempt to inject some life into the game.
But the game still failed to ignite and Lee Williamson was brought on for Russell a few minutes later.
Stuckmann created a few raised heartbeats among the travelling Preston fans when he came for – and missed – Allan’s cross on 73 minutes, but Bailey Wright was on hand to bail out his keeper.
Mendez-Laing then charged into the box and fired in a powerful low ball that was cut out by Robertson.
And Allan was not too far away with a fierce effort from just inside the box, as Pompey tried to up the tempo.
He went even closer on 85 minutes, but Stuckmann was equal to his thunderous close-range strike, sticking out a hand to divert the ball over.
But the Blues were unable to provide the Fratton faithful with the perfect Christmas present as the long wait for a win continues.
Pompey: Eastwood; Dumbuya, Gyepes, Rocha, Harley; Russell (Williamson 68), Ertl, Howard (c); Allan, McLeod; Jervis (Mendez-Laing 61)
Booked: McLeod, Rocha
Subs not used: Smith, Webster, Michalik, Walker, Harris
Preston: Stuckmann; King, Wright, Robertson, Cansdell-Sherriff; Monakana (Holmes 74), Byrom (c), Procter (Mousinho 53), Buchanan; Elding (Beavon 53), Beardsley
Booked: Wright, Procter, Robertson, Mousinho
Subs not used: Simonsen, Amoo, Wroe, Cummins
Referee: Dean Whitestone
The Preston Preview by Josh Bell
Successive away draws have reignited the spirit in Pompey’s camp, but they are still without a win since October 20.
That leaves them one place and one point above the League One drop zone, although a forthcoming 10-point penalty would see them slide down to 23rd.
But the Blues can draw on the spirit of previous Great Escapes as they look to get back on the victory trail against Preston.
The Lancashire side missed out on promotion to the Premier League when they lost to West Ham in the 2005 Championship play-off final.
They also finished in the top six a year later, but have struggled since and were relegated to League One under Phil Brown in 2011.
He was dismissed exactly a year ago and in came Graham Westley, fresh from guiding Stevenage to back-to-back promotions.
The Lilywhites finished 15th under his charge last term and are currently only slightly better off, sitting in 14th position.
Westley has suggested that a recent dip in form could be because of injuries to Keith Keane and Scott Laird.
Versatile Irishman Keane made more than 250 appearances for Luton before joining Preston in July, while Laird also arrived in the summer after scoring nine times for Stevenage last term.
There is a strong ex-Boro contingent in the Preston ranks – along with Laird there is Joel Byrom, Chris Beardsley and club captain John Mousinho.
Westley was also able to bring in John Welsh, who played Champions League football for Liverpool, and Stuart Beavon, who netted 25 times for a relegated Wycome side last season.
Pompey last hosted Preston in a Championship clash in April 2011, with Greg Halford cancelling out Iain Hume’s opener.
But they have not met in the third tier since the 1982/83 campaign, with the Blues collecting four points from the two fixtures that season.
And points are what Pompey need now – with three of them on Saturday providing the perfect present in the last game at Fratton Park before Christmas.
GOALS SCORED THIS SEASON
GOALS CONCEDED THIS SEASON
TOP SCORER THIS SEASON
Pompey: Izale McLeod (11)
Preston: Nicky Wroe (8)
MOST ASSISTS THIS SEASON
Pompey: Brian Howard (6)
Preston: Jeffrey Monakana (5)
MOST SHOTS THIS SEASON
Pompey: Izale McLeod (63)
Preston: Stuart Beavon (49)
SHOTS ON TARGET THIS SEASON
SHOTS OFF TARGET THIS SEASON
HIT WOODWORK THIS SEASON
AVERAGE LEAGUE ATTENDANCE AT FRATTON PARK
POMPEY HOME LEAGUE FORM
PRESTON AWAY LEAGUE FORM