Cardiff and Preston played out a dull 0-0 draw that did little to strengthen either club’s Championship promotion chances.
Opportunities were at a premium in the Welsh capital as both sides seemed content to take a point.
Preston, who started the day in third, opened the door for their play-off rivals to move above them in the race for the Premier League while Cardiff missed the chance to provisionally join sixth-placed Fulham on 35 points.
The high-flying visitors made a pair of changes at Cardiff City Stadium as they went in search of their third successive Championship victory.
Alex Neil, whose side are the highest scoring team in the division at home but have struggled to find the net on the road, brought in Tom Barkhuizen to lead the line and Tom Clarke at right-back in place of David Nugent and the suspended Darnell Fisher.
Cardiff manager Neil Harris made five changes from the team who fought back from 3-0 down to draw at Leeds.
Jazz Richards came in for his first start in almost two years and Aden Flint overcame a groin problem to feature with Robert Glatzel, Josh Murphy and Leandro Bacuna also selected.
North End looked the more likely team to find the breakthrough during a dull first half that contained just a single shot on target. Sean Maguire hit the side-netting twice, 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.
Cardiff broke downfield moments later and almost took the lead against the run of play after Bacuna drove across halfway with the ball.
He lost possession on the edge of the area but the ball broke free for Lee Tomlin, who dragged a low shot inches wide.
Maguire had one final first-half chance after latching onto Ben Pearson’s pin-point long ball, but he failed to find the target again.
The wayward shooting continued after the restart when Paul Gallagher picked up possession in the edge of the area and curled an effort half a yard wide of Etheridge’s post.
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.
That was only the second shot on target all game, but there was still time for one more when Pearson broke downfield and stung the hands of the Cardiff number one.
But there was to be no late winner as both sides settled for a share of the points.
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