Paul Gallagher continued his love affair with the FA Cup by firing Preston North End to a 2-0 victory over Norwich City.
Championship side Norwich succumbed to Gallagher’s clinical finishing as he pounced twice in the second half and fired two first-time shots past John Ruddy.
The Scot’s first flew straight through Ruddy’s legs but the keeper had no chance with his second stellar strike as the Leicester City loanee proved his premier pedigree and fired Simon Grayson’s League One side into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Gallagher scored a hat-trick against Edgar Davids’ Barnet side in PNE’s 6-0 second round victory last term and impressed in the famous cup competition once again.
Simon Grayson made five changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Crewe on Sunday.
PNE’s young Irish starlet Alan Browne retained his place in central midfield and was watched by the Republic of Ireland’s assistant boss Roy Keane, who sat in the director’s box at Deepdale.
Bailey Wright returned to captain the PNE side in place of Tom Clarke who was rested.
The Australian has been absent from the starting XI since October due to a groin injury and helped Thorsten Stuckmann keep a clean sheet as Norwich failed to get one shot on target.
Calum Woods, David Buchanan, Kyel Reid and Jack King also returned to the starting XI.
Whilst Kevin Davies, club captain John Welsh, Scott Laird and Scott Wiseman were all rested as Grayson had one eye on Wednesday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie with Walsall.
Josh Brownhill, Kyel Reid and Wright all had chances early doors.
But North End play-maker Gallagher felt he should have been awarded a penalty in the 37th minute.
Gallagher was up in arms after the ball appeared to deflect off former Blackpool player Wes Hoolahan’s arm in the box. But referee Stuart Atwell waved play on.
Moments later PNE were awarded a free-kick after Hoolahan handled Reid’s cross just outside the box.
North End just needed a touch to open the scoring from the subsequent set-piece as Gallagher fizzed in a teasing cross that flew through a crowded box and just evaded the all important touch from a white shirt.
Reid and Buchanan link-up on the left in the 62nd minute Buchanan fires the ball into the box but Little’s tame header flew way over Ruddy’s bar.
Nathan Redmond’s fierce strike fizzed just wide of Thorsten Stuckmann’s right hand post in the 65th minute.
But Gallagher put the host’s in front in the 71st minute. King headed Buchanan’s deep cross back across goal into the path of Gallagher who fired the ball through Ruddy’s legs into the back of the net.
And the Scotsman doubled his tally in the 85th after substitute Beckford slid in to win the ball before dishing it out to Reid on the left. Reid found Gallagher unmarked in the box and the attacker’s first time shot flew past the helpless Ruddy.
PNE’s New Years Day signing Sylvan Ebanks Blake came off the bench to make his début with a four minute cameo.
PNE: Stuckmann, Woods, Wright, Huntington, Buchanan, King, Browne, Brownhill (Humphrey, 63), Gallagher, Reid (Ebanks-Blake, 86) Little (Beckford, 63). Subs not used: Clarke, Kilkenny, Davies.
Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Turner, Bennett, Miquel ( Loza, 84) Redmond, Howson, O’Neil, , Johnson, Hoolahan (Murphy, 71), Hooper (Lafferty, 68). Subs not used: Martin, Garrido, McGrandles, Rudd.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
Attendance: 9807 (Norwich 1099)