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Mullet added 23:27 - Jan 14
Eskimos have a thousand words for snow and Northerners have a similar lexicon for drizzle. A few hardy Town fans were greeted by a whole dictionary's worth drifting past the floodlights and onto the lush green expanse of Deepdale as if god's breath was pushing it along. It was a poetic picture of frigid environs.

An experimental Town side of unfamiliar personnel in familiar shape lined up. Loach covered by veteran Edwards, regulars Smith and Berra and Mings on the left. Tunners sitting deep in the midfield chevron, ahead of him on Hyam and Tabb. Hunt on the left to start, Anderson wide right and Nouble the main man up top.

Preston were convivial hosts. Town allowed to play a lot early on in a half very much marked by hard work and little reward. The second string vibrated with the chance to force their way into the manager's thinking but alas they produced stuff of sleep rather than dreams.

Neat and shiny triangles of one touch football traversed the width of the midfield. All ten men caressed the oily ball of salmon around in play that spread out like a carpet of Dairylea. Cheap and unsatisfying, it had to do.

If one was to squint really hard and let hypothermia take hold, Town looked like Barcelona of old. Tunners opting not to run much tonight but pick his passes. He went all Koemen and sent through Nouble with a bending 30 yarder. The cash converters Kluivert forced a corner in a game where he was all physicality, both feet and head. An impressive performance showing he can play the lead role albeit with spluttering service. His first real chance was early on. It saw him flick a conservative header off a wicked Anderson cross all too easily for Budgie Rudd.

As the wingers switched, Hunt's eagerness to get the ball saw him avoid the touchline and drift centrally. It meant all too often when it was his time to receive the ball he was in the wrong place. Town's only concern came from veteran Davies. The former Trotter a carthorse amongst men, nudged and bundled all game but his first chance was pure Sunday league. A kamikaze crash into blue shirts. It was however only going to get better for him and his team mates.

As the first half fizzled out with only crosses to contend with either glovesman, the only chance of note was a Tunners volley fizzing and dipping tellingly over the bar. Bar that, it was all half turns into defenders, and runs cut out for throw ins or corners. Hunt is no Cresswell. Let's leave it at that.

The second half shivered and shimmered into action. Silence punctuated only by odd chants and a far off trumpet accompanied by a casual drummer. Like a two man ska band playing odes to Napalm Death they treated us to few-second blasts of mangled tunes. Town treated us to a few insights into the squad as whole.

While Carlos has the colourful footwear and jazzy footwork still in his locker, a good performance tonight showed why the Wolves interest was forthcoming. Mings was the polar opposite in every way. Generous with head and feet he went back to his roots with a display well below Town's level. Gifting possession away regularly.

A midfield with so many short and busy legs showed they were unfamiliar with each other. Town tellingly began to move like a drunken centipede as both sides to'ed and fro'ed. It was to be Town who took the advantage, the threat of extra time nullified for the first time.

Tunners cut across his man only to be felled. Anderson and Hunt stood over it before the former Tricky Tree cut one in-swinging. The CB puffed out his chest and the ball up high. The budgie flapped comically and it landed to Nouble on the byline. A thicket of bodies and a tight angle saw him take an age to cut it back and thrash it into the net. A guttural, bovine release greeted the 1-0 lead. “NOOOOOOOBS” and that innit.

Grayson made a chance soon after the hour and the opener, Garner coming on. It was to prove inspired. The substitute schooled town with schoolboy finish. Drilling low amid a box of bodies into the corner. The fact that the deflected shot which saw the corner given had threatened to go in before that was of no comfort.

The cliché super-sub is oft used and often overused however in a purple patch akin to leaving Prince too long between two fat lasses, it was predictable and galling to see Garner burst through and fire home again within minutes. Town went from comfortable and casual to dozing their way onto the back foot.

The Santa beard was caressed and from his sack Mick sprung McG and Taylor. It felt like a wimpy kid calling on the aid of an older brother in a meaningless scrap. The two sets of fresh legs replaced the wideman Anderson who seems to have Barton-like aversion to completing 90 mins, and saw a change of shape with Tabb making way. The little scrapper having faded badly in the second spell.

A fluid 4231 crashed in waves onto North End. Nouble went wide right, Hunt wide left and the subs rotating and span through the middle of the park. It was to be briefly fruitful in a game which had been so barren for Town.

Dallying on the right with neat touches, Tunners, Hyam, and Edwards' patience eventually allowed the former captain to cut back. His left footed cross a thing of beauty. Dipping at the back post for McG to drift in and nod home. A finish from a man whose goalscoring takes on new aspects time and time again. The heart fluttered and the teeth chattered prayers and incantations as another half hour of 'this' loomed larger than Davies in Tommy Smith's eye line.

The back two seemed their usual selves all game but when Davies nudged them away and Garner popped up again the game which had looked like a Training Day for town so often, had one last piece of contrived action in it.

The super sub held up the ball before firing across Loach. Contrary to earlier reports he's not that keen to move. 3-2. The home fans erupted as if newly fracked and Town looked unduly fecked. The introduction of player coach Lee for compatriot Hunt had done us no good. The shaggy-haired rover had only just just missed a sitter. Frozen in crane stance ready to kung fu kick a goal, the ball bobbled away at the crucial moment.

Often an object d'art during his time with Town and sometimes and object d'lard, Alan was allowed one trademark flick to no avail. McG chased it down into a collecting Rudd's hands. Apart from that the six mins of injury time saw a desperate Town line all our big boys up across the pitch. The leftover little'uns sat back as the ball was humped and pumped forward. Town already paid the penalty with no hope of earning them.

Overall the cup run remains dismal. The drive back likewise. Now onto the league. It's points that mean prizes for a club like Town anyway.

mrmorisato added 00:50 - Jan 15
David McGoldrick and Paul Taylor both came off the bench in the 2nd half to provide the extra fire power Town had lacked in the 1st period. McCarthy opted for a 4 3 3 formation placing his faith in an experimental front 3 with Hunt and Anderson flanking Nouble in the centre of attack. Again town found themselves involved in what sounded like a laid back exhibition match with few goal chances being created from either team. Listening to the game on the radio it sounded like Town's game plan was to see the game out with a 1 nil victory, an approach that many town fans have felt uncomfortable watching this season (me included although this method has proved fairly successful at times) Preston on the other hand have shown that they're no push overs and defeating a club like Ipswich will be a confidence booster for them. I think Forest will be too strong for Preston in round 4 as Billy Davies men have been resurgent of late looking like serious play off contenders.

I'm unhappy Town have succumbed to another lower league outfit in cup competition this season and I'm disappointed that some players in the squad don't appear to be working hard enough when asked to perform. Its satisfying to see McCarthy showing his anger and frustration at players who don't play well for the club, hopefully Mick can attract stronger defensive players the team needs this month.

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5 SepBristol R CCH3 - 01
8 SepBristol R H1 - 22
13 SepWigan H2 - 00
16 SepFulham CCH0 - 12
19 SepBristol R A0 - 25
26 SepRochdale H2 - 02

3 OctMK Dons A1 - 16
6 OctGillingham H2 - 01
10 OctBlackpool A1 - 47
17 OctAcc. Stanley H2 - 07
20 OctDoncaster A4 - 16
24 OctLincoln City A1 - 09
27 OctGillingham H1 - 09
31 OctCrewe H1 - 08

3 NovSunderland A2 - 113
7 NovPortsmouth FACH2 - 35
10 NovCrawley A2 - 00
21 NovShrewsbury H2 - 110
24 NovHull City H0 - 38
28 NovCharlton H0 - 25

1 DecOxford United A0 - 08
5 DecPlymouth A1 - 22
12 DecPortsmouth H0 - 220
15 DecBurton H2 - 17

9 JanSwindon H2 - 38
16 JanBurton A0 - 110
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