Preston fan John Roper gives his verdict on Ryan Lowe's first loss as boss - a 2-1 loss in FA Cup to Cardiff City
A very forgettable third round FA Cup tie saw North End out of the competition at the first attempt for the fourth season on the trot with a 2-1 defeat after extra time at The Cardiff City Stadium.
No fans inside the ground meant a game played without atmosphere and I feel for both sides it was to their detriment.
Cardiff took the lead in the game just before the interval of what had been a fairly even first half without being spectacular.
North End levelled things up early in the second half when Sean Maguire was brought down and Daniel Johnson calmly tucked away the spot kick.
The game went in to extra time and with just four minutes to go, and the game looking like it was going to penalties, Harris scored the winner to put the Bluebirds into round four.
Ryan Lowe made four changes from the side that won at Stoke last week with Cunningham, McCann, Ledson and Maguire coming in for Hughes, Browne, Whiteman and Evans. North End started the half well and were on top in the first quarter of an hour without really causing too many problems.
Cardiff came back into the game and for a while it was a stalemate in midfield with both sides having half chances with a Davies attempt probably the best chance of the game for Cardiff.
North End were slightly sloppy with their passing and were made to pay the price just three minutes from half-time when Sepp van ben Berg lost possession and the dangerous Davies cut inside and went round Patrick Bauer before firing home a shot that Daniel Iversen had no chance with.
No changes at the break for North End but we started the second half well and within seven minutes of the restart we were level. Brown made a clumsy tackle on Sean Maguire in the box and Johnson made no mistake from the spot coolly putting the ball inside the keeper’s right hand post.
Scott Sinclair then came on for Riis and North End looked dangerous for a while through the channels. Again both sides seemed limited to half chances but Maguire had a good chance for North End that went wide.
We then saw Josh Harrop for the first time this season as he and Ben Whiteman were introduced for Ali McCann and Ryan Ledson.
The game petered out really as both sides seemed to settle for an additional 30 minutes. Into extra time and Josh Earl had the first chance for North End with a shot that went wide. Both team were flagging and mistakes were creeping into the game.
Ched Evans then came on for Maguire as Iversen made an excellent diving save to his left. It looked like being a long drag through the additional 30 minutes with Johnson replaced by Alan Browne after suffering cramp just before the extra time interval.
Harris shot wide as penalties loomed with the visitors looking to have settled for spot kicks. With just four minutes left of the 120, North End were dispossessed again and as the cross came in Harris fired home from the inside right position to give Cardiff a glamour trip to Anfield to play the mighty Liverpool in the fourth round.
North End had a huge shout for a penalty right at the end but referee Woolmer chose to wave away Preston appeals. So Lowe loses for the first time as North End manager albeit in the FA Cup.
PNE were far from their best down in the Principality and our passing, particularly at the back and into midfield was not of the high standard we expect, especially from some of the senior players in the side. No real excuses as the home side had several key players missing and probably just about deserved the win on the day.
There is no doubt that a tie at Anfield would have been a great day out for the club but that has gone now and North End must quickly get back to the bread and butter of the Championship.
Two games at home against Birmingham and Sheffield United give us a great chance to climb the league table. starting next Saturday against the Blues.
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