The latest of late shows from North End as Eoin Doyle’s 94th-minute winner sent us into the the second round of the EFL Cup at the expense of a plucky Hartlepool side.
Although the visitors were very limited in their chances they defended very well but North End’s finishing will have to improve a good deal if we are to make a decent impact on the Championship this season.
This was one of those first-round games that will not live long in the memory, with Simon Grayson’s boys trying to win the game with just the superior skill and not enough of the fight.
It is difficult to be too critical of North End because the job has been done and we are in the hat for the second round.
But the Preston fans in the crowd of 4,509 will be slightly worried by what they saw, particularly with two tough looking home games coming up.
North End started 4-4-2 but with nine of the eleven that started at Reading on Saturday, with the two changes being Browne and Doyle coming in for Beckford and Clarke.
We were on the front foot from the off with Gallagher and Pringle playing wide but all too often our attacks would break down at the edge of the box with North End guilty, sometimes, of trying to walk the ball into the net.
Gallagher and Pringle both had good chances in the first half and there was a decent shout for a penalty when a Garner effort appeared to be handled in the box.
Garner did get the ball in the net but was just offside much to the disgust of the North End striker.
At the other end there was really very little for Lindegaard to do in the first period and as half time came it was surely just a matter of time before North End broke the deadlock.
The second half started pretty much as the first did with the home side having plenty of the ball.
But the game quickly started to open up as the visitors got more of the ball and started to create one or two problems for the North End defence.
In fact the Monkey Hangers had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for an infringement.
Substitutes Hugill and Robinson were creating problems at the other end and both had opportunities to open their account, all of which went begging as North End strove manfully to get the winner that just wouldn’t come.
With added time running out Humphrey got the ball down the right and crossed the ball which eventually found Doyle and the striker ended the agony and, thankfully, sent North End through to the second round.
Not our best performance by a long chalk and you just could not help feeling sorry for the 180 Hartlepool fans who had travelled from the North East and will probably think that they deserved a crack at extra-time.
The truth of the matter is that we could have scored three or four but our finishing was poor on the night and the atmosphere was somewhat subdued with the Town End being closed for the evening.
North End must hope for a home draw as the next round is scheduled between the two long away trips to QPR and Ipswich and a long midweek trip would not really be ideal under the circumstances.
EFL Cup second round draw – visit lep.co.uk after 10pm on Wednesday