Frankie McAvoy was left sickened as Preston failed to pay tribute to late owner Trevor Hemmings with a win at Deepdale after being held to a 0-0 draw by Derby.
The popular North End owner died at the age of 86 earlier this week, so the club priced all tickets for the game at £5 – with the gate receipts donated to charities supported by Hemmings.
It ensured a bumper crowd of 18,092 packed into the ground, while the corner flags were also turned green and yellow in tribute to the colours worn by the successful racehorse owner’s jockeys.
However, the Preston players were unable to provide a send-off victory as Derby dominated proceedings, especially in the first half, and would have left with all three points but for a string of saves by home goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.
“I asked the players to win to give Mr Hemmings a good farewell, but that’s a real sickener for me because I’d have hoped we performed better,” said Lilywhites boss McAvoy. “That’s what hurts me and disappoints me the most.
“I was extremely disappointed with that first half, that’s as poor as we have been if I’m honest. The first half wasn’t good enough and I hold my hands up for that.
“We were going to make a few changes at half-time but the performances were that poor that they had to go out and improve and show they can do better than that.
“We got a bit better in the second half, which was pleasing, but for me that wasn’t good enough.
“The support turning out [for Mr Hemmings] was fantastic, it was testament to them to do that. That’s the least we could have done for him.
“When you don’t play well the positives are that you kept a clean sheet and haven’t lost the game but they are probably the only positives if I’m honest.”
Rams midfielder Graeme Shinnie blazed over on three minutes before Iversen made his first save by tipping over a Ravel Morrison thunderbolt and then repelled Tom Lawrence’s shot.
Festy Ebosele was denied brilliantly by Iversen at his near post, while in the second half, Curtis Davies headed against the crossbar and Phil Jagielka saw his follow-up shot sublimely saved by the Preston stopper.
North End could have nicked it late on when Emil Riis was denied from point-blank range by Derby goalkeeper Ryan Allsop and Andrew Hughes nodded a corner wide but the Rams were by far the better side – leaving boss Wayne Rooney to reflect on a familiar problem.
“We were the better team and deserved three points, but the issue we’ve had all season is scoring goals,” admitted Rooney.
“I thought were focused, especially the first half and we created some really good chances. We just need to take them, because it could have been a different afternoon for us.
“When you don’t, well then Preston composed themselves towards the end of the second half and had some chances.
“I’m pleased to come away with a point, but really it should have been three. Maybe it’s a lack of composure and not being ruthless enough. We’ll keep working and keep trying to do the right things.
“We’ve gone through difficult times at the club, but we’ll keep pushing.
“It’s a good to come away with at least a point away from home, it always is in the Championship, but we’re frustrated we’ve not come away with all three.”