LEEDS UNITED had to settle for a solitary point as Thomas Christiansen’s Whites failed to break down ten-man Preston North End as part of a Championship goalless draw at Elland Road.
Preston’s Ben Pearson was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card on the hour mark but United failed to take advantage and North End almost bagged a late winner when Josh Harrop hit the crossbar.
United’s best chance of the first half fell to Gianni Alioski who showed fine skill to cut in from the right flank to beat two men and fire just wide.
But Preston squandered a fine opportunity just after the half hour mark when referee Scott Duncan failed to award a foul on Pontus Jansson by Jordan Hugill on the byline. Hugill was able to square the ball to Alan Browne who should have scored but Luke Ayling blocked at close range.
North End then wasted another good chance two minutes after the restart when Hugill scampered clear down the right flank and pulled the ball back to Browne whose low shot from ten yards was placed straight at ‘keeper Felix Wiedwald.
Preston’s Thomas Barkhuizen then fired wide from range before Tommy Spurr’s volley from the edge of the area was deflected wide.
Leeds were going nowhere and the Whites were relieved to see an offside flag when Greg Cunningham stabbed the ball home from a Daniel Johnson free-kick.
But Preston’s afternoon then took a huge turn for the worse just short of the hour mark when Pearson - who had earlier been booked - was sent off for a second yellow card for hauling down Phillips.
Head coach Christiansen brought on Samuel Saiz and Ronaldo Vieira at the same time and Leeds began to create plenty of chances as Chris Wood twice narrowly failed to connect with good crosses from Cameron Borthwick-Jackson.
Wood was then denied by a brilliant save from Chris Maxwell as the striker was released one on one by Hernandez only to see his low shot clawed away with Alioski then losing his footing when looking to bury the rebound.
After Wood narrowly failed to convert another Borthwick-Jackson cross, Saiz then put a close range header straight at Maxwell from Vieira’s cross.
Maxwell then punched away a header from final Leeds substitute Stuart Dallas before acrobatically tipping away the rebound from Hernandez.
But Preston nearly left with all three points when a late cross from Johnson trickled all the way across United’s area, only needing a touch to be converted.
Leeds were given five minutes of added time to bag a winner but it was Preston who so nearly grabbed it in the 95th minute when a flowing counter attack ended with Harrop hitting the crossbar.
Leeds United: Wiedwald, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Borthwick-Jackson (Dallas 82), Phillips (Vieira 60), O’Kane, Roofe (Saiz 60), Hernandez, Alioski, Wood. Subs not used: Peacock-Farrell, Anita, Shaughnessy, Ekuban.
Preston North End: Maxwell, Fisher, Huntington, Spurr, Cunningham, Pearson, Browne (Gallagher 90), Johnson, Barkhuizen (Harrop 68), Robinson, Hugill. Subs not used: Hudson, Vermijl, Davies, Horgan, Maguire.
Referee: Scott Duncan.
Good Day For:
Chris Maxwell. Preston’s goalkeeper conceded three at Elland Road last season but he got the better of Chris Wood in a crucial one-on-one and also kept out a goalbound volley from Pablo Hernandez after that. No way through him or his defence.
Bad Day For:
Ben Pearson. Earned 16 bookings last season, one more than Pontus Jansson, and looked like a red card waiting to happen. Alex Neil was unhappy with his first booking but had no argument with his second. “I’ve spoken to him about his discipline,” Neil said.
Two key moments, really. Pearson’s red card on the hour turned a match which Preston were dominating steadily but Wood’s opportunity was almost gift-wrapped and the entire stadium expected him to bury it.