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Michael O'Neill admits Stoke 'did not cause Preston enough problems'

Michael O'Neill admits Stoke 'did not cause Preston enough problems'
© Reuters
North End are 10 points clear of third-bottom Rotherham, who have three games in hand.

Preston caretaker manager Frankie McAvoy insists his side are not looking over their shoulder after their 0-0 draw at Stoke.

The stalemate at the bet365 Stadium leaves North End 10 points clear of third-bottom Rotherham, who have three games in hand.

McAvoy accepts there is still a risk for Preston but prefers to focus on what his side can do, knowing that they still control their own destiny.

"We have four games to go and have to try and win as many of the games left as we can," he said.

"There are still teams that can catch us if we don't win our games and we have to treat every game on its merit.

"We will not get sucked into how many points we need. We can't control what other teams do.

"We have control over the games we play and that is what we need to focus on."

Stoke midfielder Josh Tymon missed the best chance of the first half after North End goalkeeper Daniel Iverson came out on top in a one-on-one .

Both sides then hit the woodwork in the second half, with Harry Souttar heading against the crossbar before Andrew Hughes hit the post with a free-kick.

Souttar headed wide at the back post and Steven Fletcher had a goal ruled out for offside as Stoke pushed for the breakthrough.

Souttar was then sent off with four minutes to go for a professional foul on Alan Browne, after the Preston captain went clean through, but the visitors could not capitalise as the points were shared.

McAvoy added: "We did not do well enough in the first half and we had to address that. It was not good enough and it will not get us anywhere.

"We got the press fixed from the front in the second half and we were the dominant team.

"Over the course of the game we were unfortunate that we didn't come away with the three points.

"It is disappointing that we didn't get the win, but, as a whole, we did not do enough in the first half.

"We had good opportunities in the second half and needed a bit more composure. Overall, it was a positive result.

"I'm pleased with the second half and that is a positive. I am pleased with the point to be honest."

Stoke boss Michael O'Neill admitted it had been a frustrating 90 minutes for his side, who remain seven points better off than their opponents.

"We allowed ourselves to be nullified in the first 15 minutes," he said. "We switched the play quicker after that and we were excellent up to half-time.

"We should have scored and didn't. We didn't get across people enough in the box and we needed to find something to go 1-0 up.

"Preston made it more difficult for us in the second half. We didn't cause them enough problems with the decisions we made.

"We needed to turn them around more and we got bogged down and made it complicated in the second half.

"We lost the ball in bad areas and got picked off more by them. We gave away free-kicks on the edge of the box and gave them hope and belief.

"I'm disappointed not to see us take more from the game. It's frustrating to be held to a 0-0."

Regarding the two second-half incidents involving Fletcher's disallowed goal and Souttar's dismissal,  O'Neill said: "Steven Fletcher's offside could easily have been given, it was marginal. From the angle I've seen it is very tight.

"There was not a lot of contact from Harry Souttar. Alan Browne was clever cutting across him, but there was contact and it was a red card."

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