Dave Seddon's Preston North End verdict: Worldwide exposure on a day to forget in the FA Cup
If Preston serving up their poorest performance of the season wasn't bad enough for the faithful at Deepdale, the fact it was shown around the world just put the boot in.
Every kick of their FA Cup exit to Doncaster Rovers was available beyond these shores by reason of the FA’s overseas broadcast deal which came into play this term.
That is why we were sat in our seats at 2pm on a Sunday so the good folk of Kazakhstan, Bolivia, darkest Peru, Alaska and Easter Island could press their red button and see Championship versus League One slug it out.
League One won the day and deservedly so – for how poor North End were on the day, take nothing away from a vibrant Donny side who led from early on and took plenty of confidence from that.
Both managers had gone against the grain in terms of making mass changes for this third-round clash.
The visitors turned up with the same team which had put five past Rochdale on New Year’s Day, while nine of the PNE side which started against Rotherham were on duty for this one.
Unfortunately for Alex Neil, the spotlight shone in particular on one of the two changes he made.
Neil gave keeper Michael Crowe his Lilywhites debut, in fact a senior bow with all of his football before having come in non-league loans.
That decision backfired with the No.13 at fault for the second and third goals.
Let’s not throw him under the bus though, with others in front of him hardly covering themselves in glory.
However, it was not a game which Crowe will look back on with any pleasure.
If this was an audition for a start on a more regular basis, he didn’t get through it.
What it did do was to show that the transfer window will be the best next step for North End when it comes to their goalkeeping department.
Chris Maxwell is on his way out of Deepdale on loan and Crowe came into the side to test his credentials at being the main back-up for Declan Rudd, who sat this one out of the bench.
Rudd has had his critics this season and dropped some clangers.
Neil was diplomatic post-match on the subject of keepers.
But he didn’t hide from the fact that department was one under review.
In terms of this being a cup shock, I saw comparisons with this one to Telford and, shudder, Whitley Bay in 1990.
Far from it. In terms of a performance it wasn’t good enough but Doncaster came to Lancashire in sixth place in the division below.
PNE should have had too much for them, even with there being just a dozen or so positions between them in the football pyramid.
But they did not, Doncaster the ones who can look forward to being in the hat for the fourth round draw on Monday evening.
Neil’s men had to chase this one from the fifth minute when John Marquis headed the Yorkshiremen in front.
It needed left-back Andrew Hughes to head them level 10 minutes into the second half.
Hughes had served notice of his ability to push forward when he’d hit the post with a 25-yard drive just before the interval.
The equaliser should have been the boost North End needed to seize the game by the scruff of the neck and push on to win it.
As it was, Doncaster picked up that baton and ran with it, Crowe flapping at a header which led to the second goal and then making things far easier for Mallik Wilks than he should, with the third goal.
Crowe, 23, looked a lost soul leaving the pitch.
For the Lilywhites, this was a missed chance financially.
Doncaster got £135,000 as third-round winners.
Both sides had got £50,000 for the overseas coverage, plus the share of the gate.
The size of the prize could be much bigger for Donny if they were to land one of the big boys in round four.
North End were in their usual 4-2-3-1, Graham Burke in the No.10 role behind frontman Lukas Nmecha.
Tom Barkhuizen and Paul Gallagher provided the width, with Daniel Johnson and Ryan Ledson in midfield.
Darnell Fisher was the one outfield change, by reason of Tom Clarke getting a bang in the face at Rotherham – the skipper has a black eye to add to his broken nose.
It was right-back Fisher who was beaten by Marquis at the far post for the opening goal in the fifth minute.
Doncaster attacked on the break, Matthew Blair played in down the right.
Blair got past Gallagher on the side of the box and stood the ball up for Marquis to get above Fisher and head past Crowe – no faulting him for this one.
Hughes’ volley from the edge of the box stung the gloves of keeper Ian Lawlor, who later had to tip a sliced clearance from team-mate Ben Whiteside over the bar.
On the stroke of half-time, Hughes’ shot from 25 yards stayed low and struck the foot of the post.
At the start of the second half Jordan Storey’s back pass lacked sufficient power and fell short of Crowe,
Mallik Wilks stole in, took it wide of Crowe put shot into the side-netting.
North End pulled level in the 55th minute, Gallagher’s corner from the left met by Hughes who headed into the roof of the net from five yards.
Cue a Preston onslaught? Unfortunately it was Rovers who were to wrestle back the initiative with a little bit of help.
Gallagher’s foul on Marquis won the visitors a free-kick on their right flank, one which Danny Andrew delivered into the middle.
Alan Browne headed it up into the air, Andy Butler first to it to nod goalwards.
Crowe seemed to have it covered but rather flapped at the ball, that taking it across the six-yard box where Tom Anderson stuck out a leg to knock it over the line.
It was game over with three minutes left, Wilks getting ahead of the Preston centre-backs in a race to meet a ball over the top.
Thinking Wilks was going to chip him, Crowe jumped but Wilks walked the ball round him and scored.