PNE 2-0 Oldham
It was a case of job done for Preston North End as two second-half goals were enough to see off League One Oldham and reach round three of the EFL Cup.
Eoin Doyle came off the bench to score the opener before turning provider as Jordan Hugill added a second late on after an error from Connor Ripley in the Latics goal.
As against Hartlepool in the opening round it had been a largely frustrating night for a much-changed North End side against an Oldham outfit who hadn’t conceded in their last three games.
But Doyle’s deflected effort midway through the second period settled the nerves before Hugill headed into an empty net nine minutes from time after Doyle had forced Ripley to scuff a clearance rushing from his goal.
Simon Grayson made six changes with a debut for Chris Maxwell in goal, a maiden PNE start for Simon Makineok and a first appearance of the season for Ben Pearson.Ben Pringle, Paul Huntington and Hugill also came into the side as Anders Lindegaard, Bailey Wright, Paul Gallagher and Jermaine Beckford were given a night off.
It was a low key opening at Deepdale with chances few and far between.Hugill twice saw headers saved by Ripley, the second a particularly good chance, either side of Marc Klok having a goal-bound shot for the visitors hacked clear by Huntington in the six-yard area.
PNE were dealt a blow just before the half hour with Pringle having his chance to impress cut short, the midfielder failing to recover from an earlier clash with Ollie Banks as he was replaced by Alan Browne.
The Irishman was straight into the action, but couldn’t control a left-footed half volley on the edge of the area shortly after coming on after the ball had pinballed around the Oldham area.
It continued to be a lacklustre affair, Hugill picking himself up after being fouled by Ousmane Fane eight minutes before the break to fire over a free-kick from 20 yards.
North End were controlling possession but were a little too reliant on deep crosses into the box that the Oldham backline largely lapped up despite Grayson having employed a giant front two in Hugill and Makienok.
PNE needed some more neat football and got it six minutes after the break but after a good move involving Tom Clarke, Chris Humphrey and John Welsh, Pearson couldn’t direct his header from the captain’s cross goalwards.
After Lee Erwin had drilled straight at Chris Maxwell at the other end Preston took a more direct route for their next opportunity two minutes later.
Makienok rose highest to flick on the Fleetwood debutant’s long clearance but Hugill’s header drifted wide and was never troubling Ripley.
Browne was the next to go close for North End but saw a first-time shot from the edge of the area go narrowly wide.
Oldham were growing into the game as well however, increasing in confidence as the scoreline remained blank.
Erwin forced Maxwell to beat away a fiercely struck shot from distance just before the hour mark with Josh Law’s follow up being fired agonisingly across the face of goal for the visitors.
Grayson made his move almost immediately with Doyle and Callum Robinson replacing Welsh and Makienok, the Dane having had a solid first start for the Lilywhites.
The moves paid almost instant dividends with North End going in front after 66 minutes.
Greg Cunningham drilled in a cross from the left with Doyle bringing the ball in and finding his feet before his deflected shot trickled into the corner of the net.
The goal was harsh on Oldham who kept coming, Erwin and Maxwell locking horns again with the former Fleetwood stopper saving a low shot from distance.
It was North End who crucially got the game’s next goal however, Hugill seeing another shot blocked with a quarter of an hour to go before getting on the scoresheet on 81 minutes.
Ripley rushed out of his area to tidy up but scuffed his clearance under pressure from Doyle, the PNE front man picking up the loose ball and sending a cross to the back post which Hugill gratefully headed into the empty net to confirm North End’s place in the hat for the next round.
PNE: Maxwell, Humphrey, Clarke (capt), Huntington, Cunningham, Spurr, Welsh (Robinson 60), Pearson, Pringle (Browne 27), Makienok (Doyle 60), Hugill. Subs not used: Hudson, Johnson, Grimshaw, Davies.
Oldham: Ripley, Law (McLaughlin 67), Clarke (capt), Burgess, Wilson, Dunne, Fane, Banks (Osei 69), Klok (Green 46), Erwin, Cassidy. Subs not used: Kettings, Edmundson, Croft, Flynn.
Referee: Scott Duncan
Attendance: 5,075 (751 away)