Championship
Preston0Middlesbrough0

Preston North End 0-0 Middlesbrough

Preston North End's Greg Cunningham (l) tackles Middlesbrough's Tomas Kalas (right)
Preston North End won promotion via the League One play-offs last season

Newly-promoted Preston North End held last season's beaten Championship play-off finalists Middlesbrough to an uneventful goalless draw at Deepdale.

Boro failed to test home keeper Jordan Pickford, with Grant Leadbitter lashing their best chance wide early on.

Will Keane went closest for North End, with his first-half effort cleared off the line by George Friend.

Joe Garner missed a injury-time chance to win it for Preston, heading wide after meeting a Greg Cunningham cross.

Just 76 days after failing to reach the Premier League following their play-off final defeat by Norwich at Wembley, Aitor Karanka's Boro were looking to make a positive start to their seventh successive season in the Championship.

Stewart Downing, who returned to Teesside in the summer six years after leaving Boro, played the full 90 minutes at Deepdale but was well marshalled by Preston throughout.

Dimitrios Konstantopoulos

Leadbitter carved out and then drilled the clearest early chance wastefully wide, having made room for himself to shoot from 10 yards.

Preston, who won promotion as League One play-off winners, settled back into the second tier quickly and went close to taking the lead on 28 minutes, only for Friend to clear off the line after Keane pounced on a loose ball from a free-kick.

Moments later, Garner put penalty shouts aside momentarily to leap up from a Friend tackle in the box and fire directly at Dimi Konstantopoulos after the goalkeeper spilled a cross.

The visitors piled early second-half pressure on Preston, with Kike seeing a near-post header deflect just wide before Daniel Ayala sent a free header off target from the resulting corner.

While there was little to trouble either goalkeeper - Preston had two efforts on target and Middlesbrough had none - North End's defence remained focused enough to prevent Albert Adomah from scoring after the Ghana winger met Diego Fabbrini's pass before rounding Pickford.

North End's back-line again foiled Adomah late on, while at the other end striker Garner nodded off target after doing well to meet Cunningham's centre.

Preston manager Simon Grayson: "I thought the players worked extremely hard, carried out the game-plan and on another day we could quite easily have had a couple of goals.

"We've limited Middlesbrough to no shots on target, which is some achievement given the players they've got.

"Overall, I'm really satisfied with a really professional performance but also some good quality at times."

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka: "I said before the game we would be making a big mistake if we think every game will be easy.

"They played very well and were very well organised defensively, and they wanted the ball more than us so we have to improve.

"I am not making excuses. I have a squad that I imagine is better than theirs and they played better than us. They were very well organised and we couldn't play in our way."

Stewart Downing
Stewart Downing rejoined Middlesbrough from West Ham in July
Middlesbrough's Adam Clayton (right) and Preston North End's Joe Garner battle for the ball
Adam Clayton takes on Preston's Joe Garner, who recently signed a new three-year deal
Kike (l) is marked by Preston's Paul Huntington
Kike is in his second season with Middlesbrough after joining from Real Murcia

Line-ups

Preston

  • 1Pickford
  • 2VermijlSubstituted forHumphreyat 78'minutes
  • 5ClarkeBooked at 32mins
  • 23Huntington
  • 6Wright
  • 3Cunningham
  • 11Johnson
  • 19WelshBooked at 70mins
  • 12Gallagher
  • 14Garner
  • 9KeaneSubstituted forHugillat 84'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Humphrey
  • 8Kilkenny
  • 15Woods
  • 16Browne
  • 22Brownhill
  • 25Hugill
  • 26James

Middlesbrough

  • 1Konstantopoulos
  • 26Kalas
  • 4Ayala
  • 22Fry
  • 3Friend
  • 8Clayton
  • 7LeadbitterSubstituted forForshawat 88'minutes
  • 27Adomah
  • 19Downing
  • 20ReachSubstituted forFabbriniat 60'minutes
  • 9KikeBooked at 52minsSubstituted forStuaniat 77'minutes

Substitutes

  • 11Carayol
  • 13Mejias
  • 16Stephens
  • 18Stuani
  • 24Nsue
  • 31Fabbrini
  • 34Forshaw
Referee:
Chris Kavanagh
Attendance:
15,974

Match Stats

Home TeamPrestonAway TeamMiddlesbrough
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home9
Away7
Shots on Target
Home2
Away0
Corners
Home1
Away1
Fouls
Home13
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Preston North End 0, Middlesbrough 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Preston North End 0, Middlesbrough 0.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

Attempt missed. Joe Garner (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Greg Cunningham.

Attempt blocked. Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Adam Forshaw replaces Grant Leadbitter.

Attempt missed. Jordan Hugill (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Paul Gallagher with a cross following a set piece situation.

Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

Daniel Johnson (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Joe Garner (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Paul Gallagher with a cross following a set piece situation.

Foul by Diego Fabbrini (Middlesbrough).

Greg Cunningham (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Preston North End. Jordan Hugill replaces Will Keane.

Attempt missed. Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Christian Stuani.

Offside, Middlesbrough. Grant Leadbitter tries a through ball, but Christian Stuani is caught offside.

Christian Stuani (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Will Keane (Preston North End).

Substitution

Substitution, Preston North End. Chris Humphrey replaces Marnick Vermijl.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Christian Stuani replaces Kike.

Attempt blocked. Diego Fabbrini (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Kike.

Attempt missed. Joe Garner (Preston North End) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Foul by Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough).

Daniel Johnson (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Middlesbrough. George Friend tries a through ball, but Stewart Downing is caught offside.

Booking

John Welsh (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough).

John Welsh (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Dangerous play by Paul Gallagher (Preston North End).

Foul by Dael Fry (Middlesbrough).

Joe Garner (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Offside, Middlesbrough. Adam Clayton tries a through ball, but Stewart Downing is caught offside.

Diego Fabbrini (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Daniel Johnson (Preston North End).

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Diego Fabbrini replaces Adam Reach.

Offside, Middlesbrough. Stewart Downing tries a through ball, but Adam Reach is caught offside.

Tomas Kalas (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Greg Cunningham (Preston North End).

Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

As It Stood

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1MK Dons11004133
2Charlton11002023
3Hull11002023
4Sheff Wed11002023
5Birmingham11002113
6Wolves11002113
7Brighton11001013
8Brentford10102201
9Ipswich10102201
10Burnley10101101
11Cardiff10101101
12Fulham10101101
13Leeds10101101
14Bolton10100001
15Derby10100001
16Middlesbrough10100001
17Preston10100001
18Blackburn100112-10
19Reading100112-10
20Nottm Forest100101-10
21Bristol City100102-20
22Huddersfield100102-20
23QPR100102-20
24Rotherham100114-30
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