Match report: Preston North End 2 Blackburn Rovers 2 - Blackburn win 5-3 on penalties
Preston North End were knocked out of the Lancashire Senior Cup on penalties by Blackburn Rovers at Springfields.
The semi-final clash on Tuesday afternoon finished in a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes, Paul Huntington and Brad Potts on target for the PNE.
Jayden Stockley’s miss from the spot proved decisive, with Rovers scoring all five of their penalties and North End their other three.
It was a strong PNE starting XI, featuring eight players from the first-team squad together with youngsters Jack Baxter, Tyrhys Dolan and Jacob Holland-Wilkinson.
Rovers sent an Under-23s squad and it was the visitors who got their noses in front on a wet, windy and cold day at Preston’s training ground.
They took the lead in the fourth minute, Issac Whitehall’s driving run carrying him to the edge of the penalty area.
His pass played in Lewis Thompson, the left-back’s shot clipping off Tom Clarke and past Connor Ripley.
With Alex Neil watching on, North End were level by the seventh minute - Dolan’s corner from the left met by Huntington who powered a header into the roof of the net.
Stefan Mols hit the outside of the post for Rovers after intercepting Jordan Storey’s back pass.
Ryan Ledson was booked for a foul on John Buckley and walked a disciplinary tightrope for the rest of the game, a couple of times appearing to get a last warning from referee Darren Handley after getting himself involved in midfield clashes.
A change after 29 minutes saw Adam O’Reilly take the place of Holland-Wilkinson and that helped Preston start to get more of a grip on the game.
Baxter’s 20-yard shot hit the underside of the bar and bounced down just the wrong side of the line five minutes before half-time.
PNE went in front in the 42nd minute, Stockley intercepting a pass out of the Rovers defence and feeding it wide to Potts.
The midfielder cut inside and drove a low finish into the far bottom corner.
Rovers were awarded a penalty 18 seconds into the second half, Ledson judged to have pushed John Buckley in the box.
It was Buckley who got up to take the penalty and send Ripley the wrong way.
Second-year scholar Dolan was a livewire in an attacking midfield role, Potts busy too slightly deeper.
O'Reilly also worked his way into the game as it went along, the Irish teenager allowed to play in this fixture despite being on loan at Stalybridge Celtic.
It was the same for Baxter and Jack Armer - who came on in the second half - who are also out on youth loans at Clitheroe and Lancaster respectively.
In a late Preston flourish, Clarke, Potts and Dolan all had shots - Clarke's flying just wide, the effort from Potts was blocked in the box while Dolan's shot was parried by keeper Joseph Hilton.
In the shoot out, Jack Vale went first for Rovers and scored, Stockley then seeing his saved by Hilton to put North End on the back foot.
Ledson, Potts and Baxter were successful with their penalties, with Buckley, Mols, Whitehall and Davenport netting for the visitors.
PNE: Ripley, Clarke, Storey, Huntington, Hughes (Armer 66), Ledson, Baxter, Holland-Wilkinson (O'Reilly 29), B Potts, Dolan, Stockley. Subs (not used): L Potts, Nolan, Hudson.
Blackburn: Hilton, Pike, Barnes, Caretr, Thompson, Davenport, Whitehall, Mols, Buckely, Brennan (Burns 72), Vale. Subs (not used): Boyomo, Saadi, Harlock, Eastham.
Referee: Darren Handley (Wigan)