Preston frustrate Latics hopes
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: April 30, 2005 2:05pm
Wigan set-up a potentially dramatic last day of the season as they failed to beat Preston in a 1-1 draw.
The stalemate gave Ipswich a glimmer of hope in the race for automatic promotion, as the visitors saw their lead, handed to them by Lee McCulloch, pegged back by a Brian O'Neill header.
North End had already seen play-off football guaranteed after West Ham lost to Sunderland, although they dismissed any fears of complacency with a good performance against Paul Jewell's outfit.
Preston had the best of the first half and set out their intentions immediately as David Nugent, who had claimed five goals in his previous six games, burst through on goal only to suprisingly square to Richard Cresswell when well placed to score himself - with his strike partner unable to reach the ball.
Nugent again came close as he latched onto a wonderful Graham Alexander cross, although he could only head weakly at a grateful John Filan in the Wigan goal.
However it was The Latics who took the lead after 24 minutes as McCulloch rose unopposed to firmly head in Graham Kavanagh's inswinging free-kick.
North End responded well and Cresswell should have cut back the deficit as he first headed against the bar when Nugent's loose header found him on the left, before firing wildly over when through on goal.
Billy Davies' side did make the breakthrough five minutes before half time, as Brian O'Neill was somehow left unmarked as he headed past Filan from Paul McKenna's accurate free-kick.
A disappointing second half saw few clear-cut chances for either side, and Chris Lucketti should have done better seven minutes after the break but could only skew his diving header after stealing in at the far post to connect with McKenna's cross.
Preston nearly shot themselves in the foot as Matthew Hill carelessly played the ball across the face of his own box, although Nathan Ellington's first time shot was collected easily by Carlo Nash.
Soon after McCulloch could have grabbed a second but over-stretched to try and stab in Jason Roberts' headed flick-on, and then headed just wide as he again proved dangerous in the air.
As set-pieces proved to be both sides' best outlet Lucketti again found himself unmarked at the back-post from a McKenna cross, although again he could not beat Filan to snatch a win for the home side.
Click below for individual match summary:
Preston 1-1 Wigan
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 30th Apr
Preston1 - 1Wigan
Reading1 - 2Wolves
Coventry6 - 2Derby
Rotherham0 - 1Brighton
Stoke City0 - 1Watford
Burnley2 - 0Plymouth
Gillingham1 - 1Cardiff
Ipswich5 - 1Crewe
Sheff Utd0 - 1Millwall
QPR2 - 1N Forest
Sky Bet Championship
|2||Queens Park Rangers||19||39|
|10||Brighton and Hove Albion||19||28|