Preston manager Alex Neil was left frustrated by his side’s lack of cutting edge in their dull 0-0 draw at Cardiff.
The visitors opened the door for their play-off rivals to move ahead in the race for the Premier League after failing to make their dominance count in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Sean Maguire hit the side netting twice in the opening stages, before setting up a clear-cut chance in the 24th minute.
His disguised through ball put Billy Bodin clean through on goal, but Bluebirds goalkeeper Neil Etheridge reacted to deny the Preston winger from close range.
Preston midfielder Alan Browne should have done better after Cardiff defender Curtis Nelson gifted him possession 30 yards from goal. Browne had time and space to compose himself with the Bluebirds scrambling back, but he shot tamely into the hands of Etheridge.
Both sides had to settle for a share of the points after a lively four minutes of injury time, but Neil believes his side deserved all three points.
He said: “Everybody who watched the game would have recognised we were far the better team, Cardiff didn’t have a shot on target.
“We had great opportunities, we dominated the game, had more of the ball and better chances, it was just that final bit.
“If you don’t get the first goal against Cardiff, it’s very difficult to break them down. That first goal makes them chase the game and you can create things off the back of that.
“I’m pleased with how we played but disappointed we didn’t win because we’ve played worse than that this year and still won.
“It’s frustrating, we’ll score harder chances than we had today. That little bit of quality wasn’t there, whether it be the final pass or shot.
“We had unbelievable opportunities in terms of overloads and transitions but the final pass wasn’t good enough
“I’ve always said, if we’re in the top six come the end of January, we would have had a fantastic season, but then we should really kick on.”
Joe Ralls was a surprise absentee from the Cardiff side, and manager Neil Harris revealed he will be without the key man over Christmas after he suffered a broken hand.
He said: “It’s a blow, we just got him back and now he will miss a period with a broken hand he picked up in the Leeds game.
“It is a shame as we just got him back and I have been clear he is going to be an instrumental player in my side.
“We also had Joe Bennett go down in training with an Achilles injury. Will he be ready for the Christmas period? I don’t know. We will assess him again. The Achilles is a fatigue injury.”
On the match, Harris added: “It was not the most exciting game, not the excitement we have been used to anyway.
“In some ways I am pleased, because we got a clean sheet and looked relatively reliable… but we lacked creativity.
“Credit goes to Preston. But we weren’t good enough in possession today.
“I wouldn’t say I am grateful for a point, there wasn’t much in it, but Preston look a well-oiled ship after two years with Alex Neil.”
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