The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John McDougall

PRE­STON boss Si­mon Grayson called on his play­ers to have more con­fi­dence at the busi­ness end of the pitch af­ter his side’s goal­less draw with Cardiff.

Li­ly­whites cap­tain Tom Clarke’s header just be­fore the hour which shaved the bar was the clos­est either side came to break­ing the dead­lock at Deep­dale as Pre­ston still search for their first league win since Au­gust.

And fol­low­ing his side’s sec­ond draw in three Cham­pi­onship out­ings, Grayson hopes that the re­sult can act as a build­ing block for his side to climb up the ta­ble.

“We’re just lack­ing a lit­tle bit of be­lief and con­fi­dence in that fi­nal third where you want some­body to re­ally grasp an op­por­tu­nity, go past some­body, drop a shoul­der, hit the tar­get, and make the right de­ci­sions.” he said.

“That will come with maybe a cou­ple more pos­i­tive re­sults for us be­cause it’s not easy this divi­sion.

“It could have gone either way but ul­ti­mately we’re pleased we’ve kept a clean sheet and got a point which hope­fully we can keep build­ing on be­cause there’s no easy games in this divi­sion. We’ve got a good spirit about us that we’re de­ter­mined not to get beat if that’s pos­si­ble.”

The Blue­birds sparked into life when Joe Ralls caught the Pre­ston defence nap­ping and slipped in Cardiff’s top scorer Joe Ma­son, but Jor­dan Pick­ford smoth­ered the loose ef­fort in the 25th minute.

At the other end, Adam Reach de­liv­ered a dan­ger­ous 31st-minute cross for Ste­vie May who failed to get proper con­tact as his ef­fort trick­led wide.

Clarke made a cru­cial 38th minute chal­lenge to deny the lively Ma­son who was ready to pull the trig­ger af­ter Ralls fired in a low cross.

Paul Gal­lagher nearly gave Pre­ston the lead mo­ments later af­ter his lon­grange strike took a de­flec­tion which lifted it just over the bar.

A well worked 53rd-minute move from the Blue­birds in­volv­ing Craig Noone, An­thony Pilk­ing­ton and Sammy Ameobi ended with the lat­ter shoot­ing over from close range.

As Cardiff con­tin­ued the sec­ond half brightly, Kag­isho Dik­ga­coi slipped in Ma­son and Pick­ford got down well to parry the 54th-minute ef­fort.

Mean­while, referee Stu­art At­twell ig­nored a penalty claim when Noone went down un­der Bai­ley Wright’s chal­lenge.

Pre­ston skip­per Clarke rose mag­nif­i­cently from Gal­lagher’s 58th-minute cor­ner and his header shaved the top of David Mar­shall’s cross­bar.

Noone floated down the right for the Blue­birds and lofted a 78th-minute ball into the box which fell to Ameobi twice, who was de­nied on both oc­ca­sions by some ef­fec­tive if des­per­ate Pre­ston de­fend­ing.

Pick­ford saved a point ten min­utes from the end when Pe­ter Whit­ting­ham’s free-kick just out­side the area went through the wall and the Pre­ston stop­per par­ried it to safety.

Cardiff boss Rus­sell Slade felt the Blue­birds should have been awarded a spot-kick be­fore the hour.

“I’ve looked at it again. It looks a strong, strong claim for a penalty,” he ad­mit­ted.

“Even the cen­tre-half who he’d spoke to ad­mit­ted it was a penalty but we just don’t seem to be get­ting them at the minute.

“It wasn’t a great game or spec­ta­cle by either side in the first pe­riod and not a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties, but that was in con­trast to the sec­ond half.

“Even though mis­takes were made, there were op­por­tu­ni­ties to be taken and we were look­ing to do that. We took the game to them and we had some won­der­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties.”



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