Ten-man Preston held out for a draw against a battling Reading side in a closely fought game.
The game was one marred by poor refereeing, after a string of baffling decisions saw North End finish the game with ten men, and denied a clear penalty in the dying stages.
The home team started the better of the two sides with Iain Hume almost getting the better of Royals’ keeper Federici, with the Aussie scrambling to keep the ball out just in time.
Keith Treacy looked the most dangerous player for Preston, causing Reading’s Sean Cummings trouble down the left side all match-long.
It was Reading who had the first clear-cut opportunity however, as winger Jobi McAnuff crashed the ball onto Andy Lonergan’s crossbar ten minutes in.
Preston broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute, after some suspect defending from Zurab Khizanishvili allowed Iain Hume to get possession before squaring the ball to Keith Treacy who made no mistake from eight yards.
Reading dominated the remains of the first half, with chances from a string of corners putting pressure on the North End backline.
It was the referee, Jock Waugh, refereeing his first game at Championship level, who felt the wrath of the home fans at the interval.
Waugh was jeered from the field at half-time having handed out a number of questionable free kicks to the visitors, booking midfielder Russell in harsh circumstances and denying a seemingly clear free kick on the stroke of half time.
Preston started the second half well with a series of free kicks causing the Reading defence trouble, whilst Treacy almost repeated his corner kick taking antics from midweek, this time only finding the side netting.
It was Reading’s Jem Karacan celebrating a wondergoal just minutes later however, as the PNE backline could only clear a corner as far as the edge of the 18-yard-box.
The midfielder took the shot on first time, crashing his volley into the top corner of Lonergan’s goal, leaving the keeper absolutely helpless.
Lonergan pulled off a heroic save just moments later, as a cross from Jimmy Kebe made its way to the onrushing Jobi McAnuff, whose effort was destined for the net.
Preston almost lead moments later, as a smart flick from Darel Russell dropped just wide of the Reading goal.
Russell was involved five minutes later, but for all the wrong reasons, as he was shown his second yellow card, and given his marching orders – much to the disagreement of the PNE faithful.
The final quarter of an hour saw chances for both teams as the game became more stretched.
Preston were left riled by the rookie referee in the third minute of added time, as the ball bounced up onto Zurab Khizanishvili’s arm, to huge appeals from both the home team and fans in the Town End.
Mr Waugh waved play on, and blew the final whistle seconds later, leaving North End seven points better off from the week’s three games; a much-needed turnaround in Darren Ferguson’s fortunes.
Pictures courtesy of Peter Adams.