PNE Fans’ Panel verdict: John Roper hoping for one of the big guns at Deepdale in the Carabao Cup third round
A very entertaining Carabao Cup second-round tie saw North End progress to the last 32 thanks to a penalty shootout win 5-4.
This after 6,093 inside Deepdale had seen a much-changed PNE side take a two-goal advantage in the first half only for the visitors to draw level with just 25 seconds of added time left. It was pretty much a game of two halves if I am being honest with Preston very dominant in the first half and Hull having the majority of play after the break. Goals from Paul Huntington and Josh Harrop had seen North End look fairly comfortable but a soft penalty before the break and that late, late equaliser saw the Tigers take the game straight to penalties and everybody was equal once again. Connor Ripley became the North End hero by saving the second penalty from Eaves while Harrop, Ledson. Stockley, Bodin and skipper Alan Browne all converted with aplomb to send PNE into round three and a chance of a plum tie.
North End made nine changes to the side that started against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend but it wasn’t long before this XI were making inroads into the Hull defence and after 20 minutes North End’s pressure finally paid dividends.
A free-kick from the right by man of the match, Josh Harrop found Paul Huntington at the back post and the centre-back made no mistake heading home to give North End the lead.
Six minutes later we were two in front when Tom Barkhuizen was put through in the inside right position only for his shot to be parried with the ball falling nicely to Harrop who made no mistake from close range.
North End were cruising at this point but allowed Hull back into the game when Alan Browne conceded a soft penalty on the left of the North End box and Maginnis made no mistake firing past Ripley and bringing the visitors right back into the game when it could have easily been dead and buried.
Alex Neil brought on Jayden Stockley to replace Tom Barkhuizen at the start of the second half but North End never really hits the heights of the first half at any time after the break. The visitors looked much more organised and it could well have been that this generally young Preston side had taken a little too much out of themselves early on in the game.
The swift passing and counter-attacking that had been very evident before the break had vanished and as Hull started to pile the pressure on PNE we reverted to route one a little too much for my liking and probably suffered as a consequence.
Ripley made a couple of good saves with his feet in the North End goal as Hull went in search of the equaliser in front of their 360 travelling fans.
In the 95th minute, and just when Preston looked like the were going to hold on, Bowen scrambled the ball home and we were on our way straight to penalty kicks.
North End’s five were excellent penalties and with Ripley saving the second one from Eaves we eased our way through much to the delight of the home crowd.
Even though some of the young lads looked tired towards the end I think this result shows that North End have a little more strength in depth this season than we had in the last campaign and although we all want more quality in the squad what we have means we will probably not be hit as hard when the injuries and suspensions come around as we were last season.
For now, though, we should give credit where credit is due and acknowledge a result gained by a young team as thoroughly deserved on the evening and on the total balance of play.
Just who PNE get in round three we will know soon enough but it would be nice to get one of the big boys at Deepdale and have the place rocking under the floodlights in the autumn.