LATICS 0 - 0 PRESTON NORTH END
A highly-committed Lancashire derby ended all square with both sides – on and off the pitch – giving absolutely everything in a frenzied atmosphere which threatened to boil over at times at the DW Stadium.
Both sides had opportunities to win, the tackles were fierce, the energy levels intense and both sides will have been disappointed not to take all three points at the end of a frenetic match.
The highlight was Matt Gilks’ magnificent double save in the first half, when he twice foiled Preston’s top scorer Jordan Hugill, initially from the penalty spot, although Latics had a strong penalty claim of their own in a game packed full of incident.
Ryan Tunnicliffe was the one change for Latics, replacing the injured Michael Jacobs. On the bench, there was a first ever place for 18 year-old Academy keeper Theo Roberts, the seventh keeper named in matchday squads this season. Injuries to Jakob Haugaard, Jussi Jaaskelainen and Owen Evans and Dan Lavercombe currently being on loan at Rhyl, meant Warren Joyce had no option but to name him in the squad.
The teams went in level at the break after a first half full of typical derby incident, with every decision contested or cheered, depending which side were penalised.
Omar Bogle caused the Preston back line a few problems early on, forcing Chris Maxwell into a good early save then seeing a looped header cleared off the line by Ben Pearson.
Gilks, playing for the first time in Latics colours at the DW Stadium, then introduced himself to his new fans with a quite sublime double save after 10 minutes. Bogle fouled Callum Robinson in the area and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Up stepped Hugill and Gilks brilliantly tipped away his effort at full stretch low to his left. The ball was still in play, however, and Hugill was first to it, shooting at goal but Gilks spread himself to his opposite side to beat it away. Brilliant stuff.
After such a frenetic start, things did quieten down a little, although there were two controversial moments as we approached half-time. First, Preston’s Aiden McGeedy was shown a yellow card for lunging at Shaun MacDonald feet first on 36 minutes – it could have been worse - then Paul Huntington tussled with Bogle in the box on 39 minutes. The Latics striker went down but the referee was adamant it wasn’t a penalty.
The second half started at the same breakneck speed, Pearson shooting just wide within a minute of the restart as the visitors took the game to Latics, who then came back with a spell of their own, Callum Connolly shooting over the bar in the 51st minute.
Max Power tried his luck from fully 45 yards out on the right-hand touchline after 65 minutes with Maxwell off his line, then substitute Jermaine Beckford did the same a minute later, albeit from a central position; both efforts were well over.
Power then had a chance when he swivelled on the edge of the box after 70 minutes, but wasn’t able to hold down his shot and Bogle was denied by a superb latch ditch tackle by Greg Cunningham, as he was about to shoot.
Tunnicliffe then blasted an effort just over from 20 yards after 84 minutes, before Bogle tried his luck three minutes later coming in from the right, but shot over as well.
Four minutes’ added time were called and Latics kept pressing for a goal. With just seconds remaining, Grigg broke but was crowded out before he fed Morsy and Bogle eventually saw his effort blocked.