Southampton 0 Preston North End 0: Nash brilliance allows Preston to hail new crop of 'invincibles'

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The Independent Online

Billy Davies, the Preston manager, left Southampton's St Mary's Stadium last night a very proud man after watching his promotion chasing side record a little piece of Deepdale history.

His North End boys flew back to Liverpool airport after extending their unbeaten Championship run to 22 games - a feat which equals the record set by the club's famous "invincibles" team that claimed a League and Cup Double in the season of 1888-89.

Davies applauded his goalkeeper Carlo Nash for helping his team preserve a run which now stretches to 25 games unbeaten in all competitions, even though he saw his strikers, especially leading goalscorer David Nugent, squander a host of chances in the second half. Davies said: "I am delighted with the point and I am very proud of the club and my players for equalling the invincibles' record for unbeaten league games which has stood since 1889.

"It is a tremendous result against a team who had three players making their home debuts and who are picking up momentum."

Southampton should have built up an unassailable first-half lead but once again, they flattered in their build-up play only to deceive where it matters most: in front of goal.

Nash, the former Crystal Palace and Manchester City player somehow palmed away a header from Grzegorz Rasiak, the Polish striker on loan from Tottenham, and later turned aside a swerving effort from Andrew Surman.

Rasiak, again, was left cursing the agility of Nash when the goalkeeper leapt to his near post to kick aside his low shot nine minutes after the interval.

Preston, who have now not been beaten since they went down 3-0 against Luton at the end of September, grew in stature as the second half wore on and twice Nugent missed clear-cut chances which he would normally have put away.

Youl Mawené, the Preston centre-back, moved up and saw his low shot turned away by young Southampton goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski before the defender headed Callum Davidson's resultant corner wide from six yards out.

In the end, Southampton, who have now taken just six points from 11 games under manger George Burley, could have sneaked victory when Richard Chaplow saw his volley beat Nash but not the post. Saints are now eight points clear of the relegation zone but Burley admitted: "We are looking over our shoulders."

Southampton (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Ostlund, Lundekvam (Powell, 90), Higginbotham, Brennan; Potter (Dyer, 73), Chatlow, Wright, Surman; Rasiak, Madsen (Blackstock, 73). Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Jones.

Preston North End (4-4-2): Nash; Mears, Mawene, Luckett, Hill; Sedgwick (Davis, 80), O'Neil, McKenna, Davidson; Ormerod (Dichio 73m), Nugent (Agyemang 73m). Substitutes not used: Whaley, Neal.

Referee: C Penton (Sussex).

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