Match report: Crewe 1 PNE 3

Crewe v PNE

Crewe v PNE

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Preston North End booked their place in the second round of the Capital One Cup with victory over Crewe at Gresty Road.

They made harder work than they should have in beating their League One opponents but eventually got the job done.

North End raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 13 minutes, Jordan Hugill netting from the penalty spot before Will Keane doubled the lead.

Hugill then missed an open goal which would have had the game wrapped up inside half an hour.

Crewe took advantage of that let-off, Adam King halving the deficit nine minutes before the interval.

It was nip and tuck after that, with both sides going close to scoring.

Jordan Pickford made a fine save to deny Marcus Haber an equaliser, then Josh Brownhill and Greg Cunningham both hit the woodwork.

The visitors finally out the lid on their victory in the 86th minute, Brownhill firing home the third goal.

The win bucked the trend in the first round of this competition, a number of seeded teams having gone out the previous night.

North End’s side showed five changes to the one which had started Sunday’s goalless draw with Middlesbrough.

Tom Clarke and Paul Gallagher were rested from the squad, with Joe Garner, Daniel Johnson and John Welsh moving to the bench - no doubt Simon Grayson having one eye on the weekend trip to MK Dons.

Calum, Woods, Neil Kilkenny, Alan Browne, Brownhill and Hugill came into the side after being substitutes against Boro.

They lined-up 3-5-2, Woods, skipper for the night Paul Huntington and Bailey Wright at the back with Marnick Vermijl and Cunningham the wing-backs.

Browne and Kilkenny played the holding midfield roles with Brownhill pushing up behind strikers Keane and Hugill.

North End were out of the blocks quickly and dominated the opening half hour of the contest.

They took the lead in the fifth minute, referee Scott Duncan awarding a penalty after Hugill was tripped by Crewe keeper Ben Garratt as he moved to charge down Garratt’s attempted clearance.

Hugill took the penalty himself, dispatching it confidently right-footed past Garratt who went the wrong way.

The visitors’ pressing play kept Crewe penned in as they attempted to play out from the back.

A shot from Keane clipped a defender and rolled into Garratt’s gloves as the Lilywhites stayed on the attack.

The advantage was doubled in the 13th minute, Kilkenny’s free-kick delivered into the box from the right channel causing the home defence all kinds of problems.

Hugill got in a header was blocked, the ball falling to Keane who drilled a low shot into the net from 12 yards.

The way things were going, it looked like the contest was going to be all over as North End stayed on the front foot.

A deflected Keane shot forced Garratt to save, while Vermijl tested the keeper with a low drive after moving inside from the right-wing to meet Keane’s pass.

Those chances came either side of a couple of free-kicks at the other end, the first of those from David Fox hitting the wall and rolling through to Jordan Pickford.

Billy Bingham was off target with the second one, Pickford able to watch the 25-yard attempt go past the post.

Hugill rode two challenges as he cut in from the inside-left channel before letting fly with a shot which Garratt got down to save.

The young striker was then guilty of missing an absolute sitter which would surely have wrapped the game up there and then.

Keane and Brownhill combined across the face of the box to present Hugill with an open goal at the back post.

But he completely miscued his shot, the ball rolling off his foot and going wide of the target.

Within four minutes, Crewe were back in with a shout as they halved the deficit.

The ball was worked forward to Brad Inman on the left, the midfielder squaring a pass inside to find King who picked his spot with a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Right at the end of the first half, Bingham’s shot forced Pickford into a diving save, albeit a rather comfortable one.

Chances came at both ends within a minute of each other in the opening exchanges of the second half.

In the 50th minute, PNE counter-attacked with Browne driving through midfield before slipping a pass to Brownhill.

The midfielder hit his right-foot shot early from 20 yards, the ball beating Garratt before clipping the outside of the far post and going wide.

Crewe almost equalised with their next attack, Marcus Haber’s downward header at the back post on its way in until Pickford dived to claw it one-handed off the line.

Shortly after that, Grayson made his first substitution of the evening, replacing Wright with Chris Humphrey.

North End switched to a back four, Vermijl and Cunningham going into full-back roles either side of Woods and Huntington.

The lively Keane put a shot wide after being found by Brownhill’s pass, while they began to get some joy down the right-wing after Humphrey’s arrival.

With 65 minutes on the clock, a Kilkenny free-kick from the right found Cunningham in the box, his header looping up and hitting the top of the bar.

Humphrey then saw a powerful shot catch a deflection which had Garratt stretching to hold it above his head.

Ben Davies replaced Vermijl in the 74th minute, the young defender slotting in at centre-half with Woods moving to right-back.

Nine minutes from time, Garner replaced Hugill who was running on empty after putting in a good shift up front.

Garner was not far off making an instant impact with his first touch but was unable to keep a shot on the turn down and it flew over the bar.

Crewe substitute George Cooper fired just wide of the near post after being found with a cross from fellow sub Ryan Colclough.

North End finally put the game to bed four minutes from time, with Brownhill finding the net.

Humphrey got down the right-wing, his deep cross won in the air by Garner whose header struck a red shirt and bounced into the path of Brownhill.

The teenager made no mistake with a well struck finish from 10 yards which gave the keeper no chance.

Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Ray, Nugent, Guthrie, Inman (Cooper 63), Dalla Valle, Fox, King, Bingham, Haber (Colclough 63). Unused subs: Atkinson, Saunders, Baillie, Wintle, Richards.

Booked: Colclough 65

PNE: Pickford, Woods, Huntington, Wright (Humphrey 53), Vermijl (Davies 74), Browne, Kilkenny, Brownhill, Cunningham, Keane, Hugill (Garner 81). Unused subs: Johnson, Reid, Welsh, James.

Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland)

Attendance: 2,852 (681 PNE)