REPORT: PRESTON 0 ALBION 0
- Albion and Preston share the spoils
- Jamie Murphy and Tomer Hemed both have efforts ruled out for offside
- The Seagulls remain fourth in the Championship
- Chris Hughton’s side keep three consecutive clean sheets
Brighton & Hove Albion shared the spoils with an in-form Preston North End side, following a hard-fought goalless draw at Deepdale.
The Seagulls had two efforts ruled out for offside during the game, but there was little to choose between the sides in a cagey contest in Lancashire.
The result leaves Albion fourth and still only three points adrift of Middlesbrough in the automatic promotion places.
Chris Hughton named a completely unchanged starting 11 for the third consecutive game.
Joe Garner had the first chance for the hosts when he sent a low, driven shot just past the right-hand post.
Jamie Murphy tried his luck from distance for Albion, but his speculative strike went over the crossbar.
The Seagulls were then awarded a free-kick in a promising position after Tom Clarke was booked for a challenge on Sam Baldock on the edge of the area. Anthony Knockaert took the subsequent set-piece, but his effort sailed over the target.
Baldock was involved in the thick of the action again when some tenacious play almost set up a chance for Tomer Hemed, but the Preston defence cleared the danger.
The hosts showed their threat from set-pieces and Paul Huntington rose highest to meet Paul Gallagher’s corner, but his header went straight to David Stockdale.
Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the half as the sides contested a keenly-fought midfield battle and Albion struggled to find their free-flowing rhythm going forward.
But a Dale Stephens corner into the box caused a number of nervy moments for the Preston defence, as Connor Goldson’s initial header was cleared before Knockaert’s cross and Murphy’s shot were both blocked.
Despite the hosts ending the half strongly, it was Albion who had the ball in the back of the net when Murphy superbly dispatched a shot past Chris Kirkland from a Stephens free-kick, but the effort was ruled out for offiside.
The Seagulls had a chance to break the deadlock within a minute of the re-start when Hemed teed up Beram Kayal to shoot, but the latter’s shot did not trouble Kirkland.
The hosts still carried an attacking threat themselves, as Garner’s shot was deflected behind for a corner, before Stockdale and Bruno combined to prevent an effort from crossing the line.
Calum Woods had arguably the best chance of the game after he ended a sweeping counter-attacking move but saw his shot cannon off the underside of the bar, and Goldson cleared the danger.
The Lilywhites threatened once again through Garner, but his header from a left-wing cross was comfortably collected by Stockdale.
Baldock fed in Murphy on a tight angle, only for the latter’s effort to produce a fine stop from Kirkland.
Hughton added fresh impetus to the Albion attack, bringing on Jiri Skalak and James Wilson for Knockaert and Baldock.
The Seagulls pressed forward in search of a potentially decisive winning goal, as Bruno found Hemed but his first-time strike went over the bar.
Wilson showed a fine piece of skill to set up Liam Rosenior, whose shot was spilled by Kirkland. Hemed slotted home but Albion were left frustrated as another effort was ruled out for offside.