Finally! Preston North End's quality shows as they deliver in the FA Cup to see off Huddersfield Town

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For the first time in five years, PNE fans are able to look forward to the fourth round of the FA Cup after beating Huddersfield Town 3-1 on Saturday.

In typical PNE fashion, they did not do it the easy way but nevertheless they got the job done and are in the hat for what could the Hollywood tie we all dream of.

The home side were the better of the two in the first 45 minutes at Deepdale but Florian Kamberi opened the scoring for the Terriers as North End’s defence were disorganised and failed to clear the ball.

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It only have Mark Fotheringham’s side the lead briefly however as PNE kicked into life and Ben Woodburn pinched the ball high up, delivering it into a dangerous area where Town skipper Tom Lees obliged, beating his own keeper.

Preston North End's Alan Browne celebrates scoring his side's third goalPreston North End's Alan Browne celebrates scoring his side's third goal
Preston North End's Alan Browne celebrates scoring his side's third goal

Bambo Diaby made it 2-1 just over 10 minutes later and from then on the game looked very much North End’s. Alan Browne adding the cherry on top in the final minutes of the match popping up forward from right wing back to steer the ball home at the end of a Ryan Ledson ball over the top.

In the end, it was a good performance from Preston. In the first half there was not a lot going on but even within what was a relatively lacklustre game, there were good performances. Ledson and Woodburn in particular looked to be playing better than most and when the second half came around, and the opening goal, all of PNE’s XI raised their level, as did the duo.

The goal really sparked North End into life and although it shouldn’t come to needing to be scared into action, at least they did respond appropriately.

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By the end of the 90, you could tell that PNE were the better team and Huddersfield’s struggles this season became apparent – making Boxing Day’s defeat more frustrating. But, the fourth round draw for the FA Cup will feature PNE once again, ball no.1, and that is a huge positive.

Bambo Diaby will rightly receive plenty of plaudits after the game for his goal-saving block in the first half and his goal-scoring volley in the second. The Senegalese had a fantastic day at Deepdale. He looked assured in his game and his passing, which is a very underrated side of his game, was spot on. He was able to get PNE out of trouble when Huddersfield looked to press forward with one smart, accurate, forward ball and it is something that can be lacking in Ryan Lowe’s side.

His volley was the envy of any striker and was taken with aplomb. Perhaps Lowe was onto something when he threw the centre half up top from the bench in previous games…

But Ledson was the standout for me, a great performance from start to finish. Even in the first half where the game was lacking a bit of quality he was sharp into the tackle and looking to get his side playing forward.

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He showed why PNE were right to reward him with a new deal, he can deliver for the football club. He offers something different to every other player in the squad, his level of tenacity is unlike his teammates.

The midfielder has always looked desperate to get stuck into a tackle but now at 25, he seems to have matured into doing it at the right time. He’s able to make up some quick yards and make a tackle where no one else in the squad can.

He was given the deep midfielder role in a three man midfield on Saturday that is usually reserved for Ben Whiteman and Ledson showed why he is more than capable of taking that spot.

A mention too for Woodburn who needed to step up and did. Ched Evans was withdrawn before the game so the onus was one Woodburn to be the man for PNE to play through and he did not disappoint.

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And with PNE now in the fourth round of the FA Cup, inevitably the question will be whether the prize money for advancing will be reinvested into transfers this month, well, time will tell.

Lowe said after the game that he was hoping to get someone in before next week’s game and with Evans now nursing an injury – although minor – it becomes even more important that PNE get something over the line.

For now, though, we can all celebrate a win at Deepdale. A rare win at that. There were three more home games coming up this month – one now up in the air due to the fourth round of the FA Cup – so it was important that Preston remembered how to win at home again.

PNE were quick to assert their authority on the game and were the side dictating possession. Their first chance came after 16 minutes, Daniel Johnson picking the ball up inside the Huddersfield box before laying it back to Ledson whose curling effort going away from the far post was palmed away by Nicholas Bilokapic.

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After 57 minutes, Huddersfield got themselves ahead. PNE failed to reorganise after sloppy play at the back and Lees' attempted shot on goal inside the area popped into the air, and away from goal, with Will Boyle nodding it back where it came from. Kamberi was on hand from close range to sweep the ball low beyond Woodman.

But Preston were not behind long, it took them only four minutes to find an equaliser and it came from an unlikely source. Woodburn nipped in to win the ball back high up the pitch and it was his cross that was diverted into his own net by Lees.

On 64 minutes, PNE were saved by an important block from Diaby. Woodman's loose pass into the midfield was intercepted and the Terriers looked to capitalise. David Kasumu had the goal gaping but he squared it for Kamberi who could have made it two for the away side and himself on the day, but for the sprawling body of the Senegalese defender.

Diaby's day got even better as he scored North End's second goal on 73 minutes. Ledson's free kick from the right was sent into the box, it bounced in the area where Diaby was in place to thunder a volley into the top corner.

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With the home side in the ascendancy they made sure of their place in the fourth round with their skipper making it three. Ledson's inswinging cross from the edge of the area was met by the Irishman who stole in ahead of the defender and the goalkeeper to poke the ball into the back of the net.