05 August 2023

Will Keane nets equaliser to earn Preston deserved point at Bristol City

05 August 2023

Will Keane marked the start of his second spell as a Preston player with a late equaliser in a 1-1 Championship draw with Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

The hosts took a 47th-minute lead when a Harry Cornick long throw into the box caused havoc in the Preston defence and, after Nahki Wells fired against a post, Sam Bell was on hand to slot home the rebound.

But North End stormed back and it was no surprise when Keane, back at the club he served on loan from Manchester United in 2015, levelled after 86 minutes with a smart shot on the turn from the middle of a crowded penalty area.

It was no more than Preston deserved for an impressive second-half display that saw them create numerous chances. But City will see it as two points lost after leading for so long.

The home side made strong claims for a penalty after nine minutes when Wells went down under challenge from Liam Lindsay, but referee David Webb waved play on.

It proved the only moment of excitement for either set of fans in a turgid first half hour, full of passing errors, that saw the teams cancel each other out and defences dominate.

City suffered a blow after 22 minutes when skipper Andreas Weimann was forced off by injury, with Joe Williams sent on as his replacement.

The entire first half featured only one clear chance, created by City after 38 minutes, when Wells got in behind the Preston defence and picked out Bell at the far post.

The young striker could not have wished for a better opportunity, but fired his shot straight at goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, who advanced from his line to make a smothering save.

North End threatened from a couple of crosses, but were unable to force a save from Max O’Leary during an instantly forgettable 45 minutes.

Bell’s goal at the start of the second period finally set the game alight. But it was Preston, who responded best to it and last showed an attacking edge.

Mads Frokjaer had a 20-yard shot saved by the diving O’Leary and Alan Browne fired over from distance before connecting sweetly with a volley from a Kian Best cross and seeing his effort smack against a post.

City were all at sea. Zak Vyner had to bravely block a Keane drive and Brad Potts sent a low effort inches wide with Preston totally dominant.

Home boss Nigel Pearson responded by making two changes after 69 minutes, sending on striker Tommy Conway and winger Mark Sykes for Wells and Cornick, and his team seemed to have weathered the storm.

But still North End pressed and Keane’s leveller sparked joyous scenes among a large contingent of travelling fans.

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