Andy Little’s first-half solo strike set Preston North End on their way to a place in the second round of the Capital One Cup as they beat Rochdale 2-0 at the Spotland Stadium.
Little dribbled his way down the right wing and danced through Dale’s defence before sprinting along the back line and tapping home from close in the 44th minute.
The goal was Little’s first official strike for the club and set them on their way to victory against the run of play.
North End doubled their advantage in the 47th minute as Neil Kilkenny’s volley sailed into the bottom corner and secured North End’s passage into the next round.
PNE boss Simon Grayson made one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Notts County at Deepdale last Saturday.
Joe Garner picked up a slight knock in the Lilywhites’ opening clash of the new League One campaign and Kevin Davies took his place in the starting XI.
North End lined-up against League One new boys Rochdale in a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Little partnering K Davies up top.
Danger man Little had the first chance of the night as he stole into space on the right before unleashing a fierce strike that just curled away from the keepers right hand post in the third minute.
Davies’ cross was deflected towards goal in the 12th minute and Rochdale keeper Josh Lillis was forced into a late save as he tipped the ball round his left hand post for a corner.
Kilkenny had two chances in the 18th minute as a K Davies knock down fortuitously fell into his path. The Australian’s first shot was blocked but rebounded back to his feet, he spun and smashed the ball from the edge of the area but it sailed straight into the hands of Lillis.
Michael Rose’s dangerous cross was headed out for a corner by Bailey Wright in the 24th minute as the home side upped the ante.
Calvin Andrew’s 30-yard shot was deflected wide by Tom Clarke in the 28th minute.
And Wright came to PNE’s rescue once more as he headed away another dangerous Dale cross minutes later.
Matthew Lund romped unchallenged through PNE’s midfield and defence but his pass just missed the run of Andrew’s on the edge of the box.
And Rochdale nearly found the net as Joe Bunney’s cross from wide right kissed the top of the cross bar before flying back out into play in the 37th minute.
But Dale rued their missed opportunities as a superb mazy solo run from Little gave PNE the lead.
Little sprinted down the right hand side before storming along the back line and bundling his first official goal for North End over the line from close range in the 44th minute.
And that man Little was in the action straight after the restart as his lofted strike from the edge of the area forced Lillis to tip the ball over the bar.
And North End added a second from the resulting corner, the ball flew out to Kilkenny on the right and he volleyed the ball through a sea of bodies into the bottom left hand corner in the 47th minute.
A Gallagher corner from the left nearly sailed all the way through into the back of the net as captain Clarke, who was wearing a head bandage due to a first half clash of heads, jumped over the ball but the ball was hoofed off the line by Rochdale in the 56th minute.
Gallagher appealed for a goal as he believed the ball had crossed the line but referee Mark Brown waved away his claim.
Rochdale used up all of their substitutes in quick succession and it nearly prevailed as sub Joel Logan popped up at the back post.
Peter Vincenti’s cross sailed towards an unmarked Logan just six yards out in front of goal. But instead of dispatching the ball past PNE stopper Jones Logan got his feet tangled and missed a clear cut opportunity in the 61st minute.
And Rochdale finished the match with 10-men as Lancashire limped off in the 78th minute and the hosts had used all of their substitutes.
Josh Brownhill danced his way towards goal but as the torrential rain lashed down his fierce strike flew straight into the arms of Lillis in the 81st minute.
PNE: Jones, Clarke (c), Wright, Kilkenny, K Davies (Hugill, 80) Gallagher (Hayhurst, 73), Woods, Little (Humphrey, 73), B Davies, Brownhill, Browne. Subs not used: Wiseman, Welsh, Stuckmann, King.
Rochdale: Lillis, Bennett, Lancashire (c), Vincenti, Lund, Andrew (Donnelly, 59) Hery, Tanser, Rose (Rafferty, 60), Bunney (Logan, 59), Henderson. Subs not used: Diba Musangu, Eastham, Allen, Camps.
Referee: Mark Brown.