Simon Grayson revealed he had warned his Preston North End players to avoid being another Capital One Cup casualty like many of their Championship rivals before they saw off Crewe 3-1 at Gresty Road.
Seven second-tier outfits came unstuck to lower-league opposition on Tuesday night - while Paul Clement’s Derby also crashed out at Portsmouth on Wednesday - but Grayson was determined to get North End over the first hurdle.
They were well on track at Gresty Road thanks to early goals from Jordan Hugill and Will Keane, the first from the penalty spot, before Adam King pulled one back against the run of play prior to half-time.
Jordan Pickford’s one-handed save from Marcus Haber then denied the hosts an equaliser and Josh Brownhill eased fears of a shock with a third late on.
“I told the players beforehand that I wanted a professional performance and didn’t want us to go out like a lot of Championship clubs did on Tuesday,” Grayson admitted.
“It’s up to other managers what they want to do, but I didn’t want to make too many changes as it is still early in the season and I didn’t want to discredit the competition. I’m someone who wants to win every game.
“I thought we started the game really well. We were bright and got the early goals and we had a great chance for a third which would have killed the game off.
“Our keeper made a great save at 2-1. That was vital as it could have given them some impetus but we got the third goal in the end.
“I told the players that even though we made changes any of them could have played on Sunday (against Middlesbrough) or against MK Dons this weekend.
“Games come thick and fast at the start of the season and all you want to do is get some momentum.”