Preston 1-1 Blades - report
The Blades were good value for Saturday's point at unbeaten Preston North End.
A very entertaining game saw both sides have the chance to win the encounter.
Andy Little gave Preston the lead but Jose Baxter's third goal of the season - albeit deflected - earned the Blades a draw in front of 1,817 travelling supporters.
Clough's team showed four changes for the visit to Deepdale. Harris, Flynn and McNulty dropped to the bench, whilst Alcock missed out. In came McEveley, Higdon, Murphy and Campbell-Ryce, who made his first start. Interestingly, there was a Ben Davies on both teams!
United's Davies reverted to right-back and Baxter was the more advanced midfielder in support of lone frontman Higdon. The Blades settled the better and created the first real chance with nine minutes gone - Campbell-Ryce's cross was enticing, Higdon beat his marker in the air but Jones pushed the header around a post. The resulting corner was returned to Davies and his drill across the box was kicked clear by Wiseman but the officials mysteriously awarded a goal-kick.
Preston's luck continued as they took the lead moments later. LITTLE's inswinging free-kick travelled across the box, beyond defenders and Garner, before nestling into the bottom corner of Howard's goal.
Deep crosses then presented both sides with a chance inside two minutes. Another Campbell-Ryce delivery saw Higdon almost attach himself to the ball and then Garner headed over a cross from Humphrey. On 34 minutes Garner went even closer with a half-volley from 25 yards, but the effort was a yard wide.
Campbell-Ryce was particularly active in the first half and went close to levelling following a Blades break but his lob could not beat Jones and then the winger delivered a cross which Basham headed over.
For Preston, Humphrey's long rang effort was pushed over by Howard before the Blades deservedly levelled on 41 minutes. Campbell-Ryce did well to get the better of Davies physically and Murphy was also involved before BAXTER's left-footer from the edge of the box took a telling deflection to beat Jones.
The later stages of the half saw the Blades clearly on top but the only other effort of note was from another Campbell-Ryce cross, unfortunately Higdon was crowded out.
Campbell-Ryce continued to impress after the break and the first two chances fell to Davies and Baxter but the first one was punched away and the second was over the crossbar.
On 56 minutes, however, Howard was at full stretch to make an impressive save from Humphrey, who was aiming to curl into the top corner. From the resulting corner, King's back post header was saved on the line by the Blades goalkeeper, although the home players were adamant the ball had crossed the line before Howard's block.
The entertainment value continued and on the hour it was the turn of Jones to make a fingertip save - from Davies, who swung the ball in from a similar position from which Little scored in the first half. Garner headed onto the roof of the net and United made a number of blocks from one Preston attack, whilst Wiseman cleared off the line from Higdon's header on 63 minutes.
Howard dropped on a corner as Preston looked to make their aerial advantage count and the home side went closer still on 72 minutes, Garner's cross found Hugill and his volley was goalbound before striking the leg of Howard.
Campbell-Ryce was United's first booking, for a foul on Woods on 74 minutes, and soon after followed Clough's first change, McNulty taking over Higdon. The next change, with ten minutes to play, was Wallace taking over from Baxter.
Collins headed wide a Davies free-kick and with two minutes left Howard dropped to his left to push away a 25-yard effort from Gallagher. The action relented somewhat in the final ten minutes after an exhilarating opening 80, although Gallagher turned over a Browne cross as three minutes of added time was announced.
Doyle, playing on the left of the midfield for most of the game, was replaced by Harris late on, whilst the only late noteworthy incident was a stand off between McNulty and Clarke, who had already been booked, but the referee was happy with a telling off!
Preston: Jones, Wiseman, Clarke, Humphrey, Kilkenny, Garner, Little (Gallagher 76), B. Davies (Woods 45), King, Brownhill (Hugill 64), Browne.
Unused: Wright, K. Davies, Hayhurst, Stuckmann.
Blades: Howard, Basham, Doyle (Harris 90), Murphy, Baxter (Wallace 81), Collins, Davies, McGahey, McEveley, Campbell-Ryce, Higdon (McNulty 77).
Unused: Flynn, McGinn, Reed, Turner.