Match report: Sheffield United 1 PNE 3

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Preston North End booked themselves a fifth round FA Cup tie with Manchester United after three goals in 10 minutes saw them beat Sheffield United.

It was only PNE’s third win at Bramall Lane in 36 years but was richly deserved, despite them having to come from behind.

Sheffield United v PNE

Sheffield United v PNE

After dominating the opening half hour of the replay, they fell behind very much against the run of play to a Jamie Murphy goal in the 38th minute.

But the Lilywhites held their nerve and bounced back in ruthless fashion after the hour mark.

Paul Gallagher brought them level in the 63rd minute with a superb free-kick into the top corner from 20 yards.

Six minutes later, Paul Huntington got his head to a Scott Laird corner to give the visitors the lead.

Then Gallagher slammed home from the penalty spot to make it 3-1 to the joy of 1,112 Preston supporters who had journeyed over the Pennines.

This win earned them £90,000 prize money and a further £247,500 will go into the coffers from television for the United game - add to that a share of the gate receipts.

There were six changes to the starting XI from the side which had been beaten by Crawley last Saturday.

Two of those were enforced with January signings Sam Johnstone and Daniel Johnson cup-tied.

Returning to the team were Thorsten Stuckmann, Scott Wiseman, Chris Humphrey, Laird, Neil Kilkenny and Kevin Davies.

Calum Woods moved to left-back to allow Wiseman’s return at right-back, with Laird playing wide on the left and Chris Humphrey on the right.

Kilkenny and Josh Brownhill played the holding roles in midfield, Gallagher pushing up to play off Davies.

On the bench was Joe Garner, back in action 10 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a detached tendon at the top of his shin bone.

The opening half hour was bossed by North End who launched raid after raid into the final third.

Laird forced a diving save out of Mark Howard with a low shot in the 12th minute before they came within a whisker of going in front.

A mistake by Blades centre-half Chris Basham let in Davies in the box, his shot beating Howard but hitting the inside of the post and bouncing along the line before being hacked clear.

Gallagher’s dipping right-foot shot from 30 yards had Howard scrambling across to save as PNE kept their foot on the gas.

The home side’s first effort of the contest was Marc McNulty’s angled shot which clipped off a Preston boot and went behind for a corner.

Back at the other end, Humphrey’s shot on the turn from just inside the box got a deflection which took it behind for a corner.

Gallagher’s flag-kick was flicked on by Davies to Clarke at the back post, the skipper’s header parried on the line by Howard.

The United keeper was in action again in the 32nd minute, Laird meeting a Woods cross and looping in a header which Howard reached at full stretch to tip over the bar.

Brownhill steered an effort goalwards from outside the box, Howard well positioned to hold comfortably.

For all North End’s dominance, they fell behind very much against the run of play in the 38th minute.

The ball was worked to MURPHY on the left hand side of the box, the Scotsman allowed to check inside before hitting a low shot through a crowd of legs which beat Stuckmann too easily and hit the back of the net.

In stoppage-time at the end of the first half, Stuckmann redeemed himself with a fine save.

He got down quickly to his left to get a strong hand on Jose Baxter’s well-struck drive and push it away.

Less than three minutes into the second half, Gallagher became the first name of the night to go into the notebook of referee Lee Probert - he was the man in the middle for last year’s FA Cup final.

A yellow card quickly followed for McNulty, his trip of Gallagher seeing Mr Probert’s patience run out with him.

Gallagher swung the resulting free-kick into the middle, Clarke’s stooping effort saved at the foot of the far post by Howard.

With an hour gone, only a double block prevented North End from levelling the scoreline.

Laird’s glancing header across goal from Gallagher’s centre was superbly parried by Howard with left-back Bob Harris then putting in a fine challenge to block Humphrey’s follow-up.

But PNE were not to be denied three minutes later, Mr Probert awarding a free-kick a yard outside the box when Humphrey was clipped by Basham.

It was in an almost identical position from where Brownhill had scored in the league meeting last month.

This time it was GALLAGHER who stepped-up, striking a beauty of a right-foot effort over Howard and into the far top corner.

Things then just got better and better as North End swiftly took the lead and then extended it.

In the 69th minute they forced a corner on the right, Laird whipped it over right-footed for HUNTINGTON to get across his marker and steer a header into the net, that the centre-back’s seventh goal of the season.

Within four minutes the visitors had their third goal, a trip on Humphrey by former PNE loan player Jay McEveley three yards into the box seeing Mr Probert point to the spot.

GALLAGHER went through his usual penalty routine, placing the ball, turning his back on the keeper before spinning and hammering the spot kick low into the corner past Howard who guessed the right way.

In the minutes that followed, Gallagher twice put shots just wide of the target from the edge of the box as he looked for a hat-trick.

Garner’s arrival came in the 87th minute in place of Davies, with John Welsh coming on for Laird who appeared to pull up with cramp.

His first meaningful touch was to take a pot shot from 35 yards which flew high over the bar.

Three minutes into time added on, Stuckmann got down well to block from Murphy after he had got clear on the left side of the box.

United: Howard, Flynn, Basham, McEveley, Harris, Campbell-Ryce, Scougall (Reed 63), Doyle (De Girolamo 80), Baxter, Murphy, McNulty. Subs not used: Alcock, Davies, Kennedy, Cuveiler, Turner.

Booked: McNulty 51

PNE: Stuckmann, Wiseman, Clarke, Huntington, Woods, Kilkenny, Brownhill, Humphrey (Reid 83), Gallagher, Laird (Welsh 87), Davies (Garner 87). Subs not used: Wright, Browne, Ebanks-Blake, Hudson.

Booked: Gallagher 48, Huntington 70

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 13,161 (1,112 PNE)