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Preston North End 0 Middlesbrough 0: Grayson's men held on Championship return

Preston North End marked their return to the Championship with an encouraging 0-0 draw at home to last season's play-off finalists Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Simon Grayson's men achieved promotion through the League One play-offs last term and showed enough promise to suggest they will not be out of their depth in the second tier.

Middlesbrough provided glimpses of the quality that earned them so much praise as they finished fourth last season, but ultimately Preston proved a frustrating and well-organised opponent.

Preston looked up for a battle right from the start and almost went ahead with just eight minutes played, but Bailey Wright could only steer his free header off target from close range.

That scare seemed to jolt the visitors into life and they themselves went close a few minutes later, as Grant Leadbitter smashed wide from 10 yards.

Middlesbrough struggled to impose themselves for most of the first half, however, with Preston dictating the play and causing problems through Joe Garner, though clear-cur chances continued to prove hard to come by.

Middlesbrough produced a marked improvement after the break, though, almost taking the lead within five minutes of the restart, as Daniel Ayala headed into the side netting. 

Despite their rise in stature, Middlesbrough's final pass often let them down and Preston almost took advantage at the death.

Garner met Greg Cunningham's fine cross with a header in the 92nd minute, only to nod agonisingly wide and thus miss out on starting the campaign victorious.