Nahki Wells and Bristol City closed the curtain on their 2019/20 season with a 1-1 draw at home to Preston North End.
They had to battle back after going 1-0 down at half-time, with the second half more eventful and energy-packed than the opening period.
The hosts fell behind after 15 minutes when Sean Maguire latched on to Daniel Johnson’s backheel, before Paul Gallagher rattled the upright as Interim Head Coach Dean Holden watched his side struggle to get a foothold in the game.
But whatever was said at half-time seemed to shift the men from BS3 up a gear and they were level when Famara Diédhiou swept home his 14th goal of the season.
City played with more fight after the break but would end the campaign with a share of the points against Preston, who they have not been able to beat since 2011.
Jamie Paterson, with three goals since the restart, was presented with a chance to break the deadlock after City tried to counter Preston and Nahki Wells was fouled on the edge of the area. Up stepped Paterson to strike the resulting set-piece and it took the fingertips of Declan Rudd to steer the ball over.
City went down when Johnson’s cheeky backheel proved to be his seventh assist of the season, and Maguire capitalized. Preston were patient in the build-up and when the ball was clipped into Johnson’s path, the former Aston Villa midfielder found Maguire with a delicate flick and the latter took his time before dinking the ball over Bentley.
It could even have been a second for Maguire but for a fine stop from Bentley just before the break. Again, the visitors were confident in possession and Maguire broke down the right. He played a one-two with Johnson and forced a low shot on goal which Bentley pushed away with a strong right hand and Pereira cleared the danger.
But Alex Neil’s side were up against it immediately into the second half and City were level within minutes. Zak Vyner’s clever chipped pass set Andreas Weimann on his way down the right and he had just enough pace to get a cross away, with the ball diverting into the path of the deadly Diédhiou, who tapped home from close range.
It breathed extra energy into this City side and they could have taken the lead within seven minutes of the restart but Wells was wasteful with a close-range shot which he placed straight at Rudd, while another effort was blazed off target.
Gallagher though would test Bentley from the edge of the area but his dipping effort was tipped over by the City shotstopper.
City were enjoying more of the ball though and the introductions of Filip Benković and Kasey Palmer brought fresh legs into the game, with Pereira and Wells making way. On-field captain Tomas Kalas carved a chance for Wells, before his substitution, but his close-range shot was blocked at the near post. At the other end, Bentley was also called into action with a smart stop to deny Jayden Stockley at his near post as well.
The draw means City end the 2019/20 campaign 12th in the table on 63 points.