Town 0 Preston North End 1Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Jermaine Grandison (Mickey Demetriou 46), Ryan Woods, Connor Goldson, James Collins, Liam Lawrence, James Wesolowski (Jordan Clark 15), Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Josh Passley, Bobby Grant, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro
Subs: Matt Halstead, Mark Ellis, Scott Vernon, Anthony Griffith, Andy Mangan
Preston North End: Thorsten Stuckmann, Scott Wiseman, Tom Clarke (c), Chris Humphrey, Neil Kilkenny (Josh Brownhill 60), Jermaine Beckford, Paul Gallagher, David Buchanan, Kyle Reid (Kevin Davies 60), John Welsh, Paul Huntingdon
Subs: Jamie Jones, Scott Laird, Jack King, Bradley Fewster, Alan Brown
Ref: D Webb
Assistants: M Duncan and J Tyas
Fourth Official: J Wilson
Attendance: 6,011 (644 from Town)
Micky Mellon changes things around slightly as Town look to keep their FA Cup run going at Deepdale. Skipper Liam Lawrence returns after suspension and Mickey Demetriou drops to the bench with Town looking like they will line-up with a 4-4-2 formation.
Town had a great early chance after good link up play between Collins and Wesolowski that ended with a nice ball to put Collins in on goal, he took the ball past the defender and then curled in a right footed shot that looked goal bound until Stuckmann sprang across his goal to save.
At the other end Chris Humphrey curled in a decent shot that Leutwiler did well to punch clear and the Town keeper remained alert to then collected the follow up shot from Gallagher.
Preston looked strong in attack and after a Humphrey cross found Jermaine Beckford the forward in space, he looked to get his shot in but Goldson had done well to get across and close down and force Beckford to shoot wide.
Town were forced into a change on 15 minutes when James Wesolowski walked over to the bench and was unable to carry on, after a short while the decision was taken and Jordan Clark came into the fray.
It was Preston who took the early advantage when Town failed to clear their lines, the ball came back in and got between Grandison and Goldson to find Huntingdon in space and he smashed in an shot high into the Town goal that gave Leutwiler no chance.
Despite going behind Town continued to play and to create and look to get back onto level terms., Ryan Woods did well to keep the ball in on the touchline and then break down field, he released Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro who got to the byline and crossed to back post but a Preston head got in first to head behind for a corner before Bobby Grant could pounce.
Town were continuing to create half chances and when James Collins received the ball on the edge of the Preston box he did well to keep possession, he had a chance for a first time shot but elected to hold onto the ball and wait for support, he did a little back heel to set-up Lawrence who hit a first time low shot but didn't connect cleanly so the shot lacked the power needed.
Minutes later another good build-up from Town saw another half chance, again it was Lawrence causing the problems with a run on goal, he was fouled but ref Webb waved play on, Lawrence found the space to get in a low shot but again it just lacked the clean connection and it was was wide of the target.
As the half-time whistle was approaching it was becoming an open game with chances at both ends. Preston had a chance that Goldson did well to block and at the other end James Collins was working really hard to create, he did well to close down Stuckmann twice as he tried to clear up field and also did well to close down the Preston defence to create a half chance.
The second half started with a change in the Town line-up with Mickey Demetriou coming on to replace Jermaine Grandison, with Demetriou in at left-back and Knight-Percival moving into the centre of defence alongside Goldson.
Ryan Woods took a couple of minutes to ease back into the half but he was then back in to the swing of things. He received the ball in the middle of the park and cut past his marker, he kept the run going and then clipped a ball into Bobby Grant who had found space in the box, controlled it but then went to ground under a challenge, appeals for a penalty but only a corner given.
With just over half an hour of the game remaining Micky Mellon made his final switch of the afternoon with Andy Mangan coming on to replace Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.
The possession and pressing was all coming from Town who were starting to turn the screw and look for the equaliser. Bobby Grant showed great skill to receive the ball, bring it down and then turn his marker and was then pulled back by Huntingdon for a foul. Grant and Lawrence stood over the ball and it was Grant who curled a good ball low to the near post but Stuckmann was down quickly to save.
Moments later Town continue to press and when Collins received the ball out on the left he cut inside to give himself the space to drive in a decent shot from a tight angle that beat Stuckmann but there was a Preston player to clear off the line.
Jayson Leutwiler had been having a quiet half but when Paul Gallagher picked the ball up on the halfway line he continued his run, Lawrence was trying to get back but Gallagher had enough space to fire in a shot that Leutwiler did well to get down to and punch clear, the rebound fell to Davies but his attempted shot was wide.
Jordan Clark looked to tidy up a Preston attack by putting the ball back to Leiuwiler, but Clark kicked it back to the keeper so he couldn't use his hands, he got a decent head on the ball but it didn't have distance, Preston recycled the ball back into the Town box and Leutwiler has stuck on the edge of the box and challenge with Gallagher for the ball and ref Webb blew up for a foul and awarded a penalty. It was Gallagher who placed the ball ball, turned and on the refs whistle turned to goal to take the kick but got it horribly wrong and skied the shot well over the bar.
As the game wore on Preston were starting to get more chances as Town pushed for the equaliser. It was Town with better of the chances but Leutwiler was starting to become a busier, Gallagher found the space at the back post but Leutwiler was down to get in an important block in and then moments later he was there again to get down and save a Beckford effort from the edge of the box.
Town continue to push and probe and look for the equaliser but in the end it was a valiant attempt against a good Preston side and Town can come away with their heads held high for giving the League 1 high fliers a real game.