Preston North End and Reading played out a goalless draw at Deepdale on a bitterly cold winter afternoon, but it was second-half penalty drama that stole the show.
The free-scoring Lucas Joao was given a late chance to steal all three points for the Royals, but he surprisingly couldn’t even hit the target.
North End controlled the opening parts of the match, with Scott Sinclair’s first-minute effort from outside the box well-saved by Rafael Cabral, and Ben Whiteman in particular pulling the strings for the Lilywhites with his diagonal passing.
As expected though, Reading started to get comfortable and their first chance came through the enigmatic John Swift, who stung the palms of Daniel Iversen with a long-range free-kick.
Preston went up the other end though and Brad Potts had a great chance to open the scoring, however, he fired over from close range.
Swift continued to cause issues for North End from set pieces, stinging the palms of Iversen once again before the hosts had the best chance of the half, with Emil Riis poking an effort on target from close range, only to be denied by Rafael.
The opening part of the second half was scrappy, with Reading having the best chance to start with Ovie Ejaria’s close-range shot being turned away by Iversen, and the Dane was called into action shortly after to turn Sone Aluko’s shot over the bar.
There was little action in the middle parts of the second 45 minutes, with Iversen making a fantastic stop to deny what would have been a scruffy goal for the Royals – but the linesman’s flag went up anyway.
A big talking point came with 10 minutes of the game to go though, as Reading were awarded a penalty by referee Geoff Eltringham for a foul adjudged to have been committed by Joe Rafferty – one he took an awful long time to award.
When the dust settled, the prolific Joao stepped up and sent Iversen the wrong way – unfortunately for the Portuguese man though it was wide of the post and it remained 0-0.
That’s the way it stayed and after a first half that promised so much, it was a disappointing final 45 to proceedings.
FULL TIME: Preston North End 0 – 0 Reading