Preston 3-2 Town
Tuesday, 14th Jan 2014 21:50
Sub Joe Garner scored a 20-minute second-half hat-trick as League One Preston came from behind to beat the Blues 3-2 at Deepdale and end Town’s FA Cup interest at the third round replay stage. After a goalless first half, Frank Nouble put the Blues in front but Garner hit back twice in a minute before sub David McGoldrick equalised, however, the Lilywhites striker’s third in the 87th minute sealed the victory.
Mick McCarthy named the expected much-changed side with Scott Loach in goal, Carlos Edwards at right-back, Tyrone Mings at left-back and Tommy Smith and Christophe Berra at the centre of the defence.
Luke Hyam, Jay Tabb and Ryan Tunnicliffe made up a three-man midfield behind a frontline of Frank Nouble in the middle, Paul Anderson on the right and Stephen Hunt on the left.
Academy scholars Byron Lawrence, Kyle Hammond and Matt Clarke were on the bench, alongside veteran frontman Alan Lee. Preston made seven changes to the team which lost to Wolves at the weekend.
Hunt won an early corner with a strong burst through the middle as the Blues started brightly as heavy rain fell. Soon afterwards, Frank Nouble headed to Preston keeper Declan Rudd from Anderson’s right-wing cross.
Town weren’t too far away in the 17th minute when on-loan Norwich man Rudd failed to get much distance on his punch from Hunt’s left-sided corner but Tunnicliffe’s cushioned volley was just too high.
The game developed into an underwhelming, mistake-ridden affair with neither side able to create an opening until Hunt fed Nouble on the edge of the box in the 37th minute, but Paul Huntington blocked his shot.
Moments before the half-time whistle, Chris Humphrey sent over a cross from the Preston right but Kevin Davies was unable to get anything on it and it went out of play on the opposite flank.
Town had just about had the better of a dull half played in a muted almost reserves-like atmosphere.
The Blues had created a couple of at best half-chances but had failed to overly test Rudd, while Town keeper Loach’s most significant involvement was clutching a couple of crosses.
Skipper Edwards made an important challenge on his Lilywhites opposite number Keith Keane soon after the restart, the left-back exchanging passes with Davies and bearing down on goal until the Trinidadian’s intervention.
Will Hayhurst picked up the game’s first yellow card for a late challenge on Mings on the edge of the Blues box six minutes into the second period, the 20-year-old requiring lengthy treatment before continuing.
Berra blocked a Hayhurst shot then as the clock ticked past the 54-minute mark, the home crowd burst into a minute of applause in tribute to a well-known Preston fan Mick Murphy, who died last week.
Four minutes later, the Blues went in front in circumstances that on-loan Norwich keeper Rudd will want to forget.
After Nouble had seen a shot from a Tunnicliffe freekick blocked, Hunt crossed. Preston defender Tom Clarke chested the ball back towards Rudd, who in trying to prevent it from going out for a corner gifted it to Nouble, who widened his angle before lashing home his third goal of the season.
Four minutes after the introduction of sub Garner, Rudd went some way towards atoning for his error on 66 when Anderson was sent away down the left by Tunnicliffe, the keeper coming off his line to block.
The scoreline was completely turned on its head by Garner’s first two goals which both came in the 68th minute. First, his header from a corner on the left somehow crept past Loach and his defenders, appearing to take at least one deflection on the way.
Then, before the home crowd had settled down, Garner latched on to Davies’s knockdown before smashing a shot to Loach’s right.
Blues boss McCarthy immediately swapped Anderson and Tabb for Paul Taylor and David McGoldrick and – after Berra had been booked for a foul on Paul Gallagher - the switch quickly paid dividends.
Edwards cross from the right and with his first touch after coming on, McGoldrick nodded in his 13th goal of the season.
There was a scare for the Blues in the 82nd minute when Holmes picked Edwards’s pocket on the byline on the left. The former sub cut the ball across to Garner, but Hunt did well to block.
The Irishman had a great chance to put Town back in front within a minute but missed Nouble’s cross after the striker had been sent away down the right by Taylor.
Following Hyam’s booking for a foul, Neil Kilkenny sent through a low shot which Loach claimed.
But in the 87th minute the home side grabbed the winner. Garner outmuscled Tunnicliffe inside the area following a freekick and hit a left-footed shot on the turn past Loach and into the corner of the net to complete his hat-trick.
Veteran striker Alan Lee came on for the six minutes of injury time, replacing Hunt, but there was no way back for the Blues with McGoldrick receiving a late yellow card for what referee Keith Stroud felt was a dive and Mings joining him late on for a foul.
After a dull first half, the Blues were gifted the lead but as on Saturday against QPR, they gave away bad goals and only have themselves to blame for losing to opposition - albeit impressive opposition - from a lower division.
Town: Loach, Edwards, Berra, Smith, Mings, Anderson (Taylor 74), Hunt (Lee 90), Tabb (McGoldrick 74), Hyam, Tunnicliffe, Nouble. Unused: Gerken, Hammond, M Clarke, Lawrence, Lee.
Preston: Rudd, Keane, Laird, Huntington, Clarke, Humphrey (Wright 90), Kilkenny, Hayhurst (Garner 62), Gallagher, Davies, Brownhill (Holmes 79). Unused: Stuckmann, Wright, Beavon, Byrom, Hume. Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire). Att: 6,088.
Photo: Action Images
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