Barnsley 0 Preston 0: Spirited Reds end losing run but fail to find goal touch

Harvey Barnes was denined by a brilliant last-minute save. Photo: Glenn Ashley
Harvey Barnes was denined by a brilliant last-minute save. Photo: Glenn Ashley
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The goals remain hard to come by for Barnsley, but they will take some heart after securing a gritty 0-0 Boxing Day home draw against in-form Preston.

The Reds avoided a very unwelcome seventh defeat in eight games, but their ‘goals for’ form now reads just two in those eight matches.

The point gained lifted Barnsley three points clear of the drop zone, but these remain times for concern for the Oakwell faithful.

The Reds made a lively start to the festive fixture at Oakwell, with youngster and full debutant Stevie Mallan and Lloyd Isgrove looking particularly purposeful.

However, Paul Heckingbottom’s men were saved by the woodwork in the 14th minute.

Tom Barkhuizen headed the ball smartly into the path of Jordan Hugill, and the big striker’s effort on the turn struck the outside of a post and went behind for a goal-kick.

There was another scare for the Reds midway through the opening period.

Barhuizen found himself free inside the hosts’ box, but a terrific last-ditch tackle from Zeki Fryers saved the day.

Preston were starting to run the show, and they went close again soon after.

This time Paul Gallagher whipped in a cross which an outstretched Hugill only just managed to miss.

Back came the Reds, and they almost notched a classically worked goal in the 35th minute.

A smart move culminated with Tom Bradshaw crossing in for Gary Gardner, but the midfielder could only lift a shot a little too high off target.

The Reds fans inside Oakwell were roaring their approval, but the opportunities dried up somewhat and the first 45 minutes ended goalless.

The hosts opened the second period with fresh impetus.

Another terrific move ended with Bradshaw paving the way for Joe Williams to take a strike, but his effort was blocked by a Preston defence which had been stretched.

Yiadom and Adam Hammill were looking dangerous down both flanks, and from one Yiadom cross, Bradshaw headed harmlessly wide.

Preston replied with Hugill almost breaking through again, chesting down before lifting an effort over.

North End sub Josh Harrop drilled a shot just past the post.

Reds sub Harvey Barnes was denied by a brilliant save from Chris Maxwell in the dying minutes.

Barnsley (4-3-3): Davies; Yiadom, Pinnock, Lindsay, Fryers; Gardner, Williams, Mallan; Isgrove (Barnes, 74), Bradshaw, Hammill. Subs not used: Townsend, Thiam, Ugbo, McGeehan, MacDonald, McCarthy.

Preston (4-2-3-1): Maxwell; O’Connor, Woods (Browne, 78), Huntington, Barkhuizen; Pearson, Johnson; Horgan (Mavididi, 69), Davies, Gallagher (Harrop, 59); Hugill. Subs not used: Rudd, Boyle, Cunningham, Welsh.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham).

Att: 14,014

Star man: Ethan Pinnock.