Team Line-ups: Cameron Gregory, Zac Hartley, Cameron Essien, Harri Lovett, Tom Davies, Josh Agbozo, Lewi Redding, Ryan Barnett (C), Charley Higgs, Tyrone Ofori, Mwandwe Lifumpa.
Substitutes: Jack Atkinson, Reiss Corfield, Kian Taylor, Jermaine Turner.
Town lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. Cam Gregory started between the sticks with Zac Hartley, Josh Agbozo, Tom Davies and Cam Essien making up the back line. Harri Lovett, captain Ryan Barnett and Tyrone Ofori made up the midfield with Lifumpa Mwandwe, Charley Higgs and Lewi Redding up top.
The first chance of the game came for town in the 3rd minute. Ryan Barnett swung a high cross into the box, which dropped into space in front of goal. No-one was there to get on the end of it and Preston cleared in a moment of panic.
Preston then looked use their pace out wide to create a crossing opportunity but a commanding Gregory came out to collect the ball and set Town on the counter. Ryan Barnett then found space outside the box, letting off a vicious strike which the keeper could only parry. The rebound was slotted home but only to be ruled out for offside.
Preston then pressed on forcing a good double save from Gregory, one of which was towards the top right corner. In the 10th, Preston were awarded a penalty after Michael Howard was clipped inside the box. Jack Baxter stepped up to slot calmly past Gregory to make it 1-0.
Lifumpa Mwandwe sprung alive after the goal to create a flurry of opportunities. In the twelfth he made a dangerous run in behind the Preston back four but was ruled offside. Five minutes later, Mwandwe then came deeper to pick up the ball on the half way line before making a tantalising run through the middle past two men, rolling Charley Higgs through on goal. Higgs produced a good strike towards the bottom corner but Preston keeper Callum Roberts was equal to it.
Moving into the 20th minute town were awarded a free kick on the left side of the box. Ryan Barnett stepped up to curl the ball towards the bottom right corner. Any kind of touch would have seen Town go level but an anxious Preston defence fumbled the ball away.
Barnett then produced a stunning run down the right wing to outpace his defender. As Barnett approached the box, he squared it to Ofori who looked certain to score until his shot was blocked for a corner.
The action didn’t stop there. Mwandwe picked up the ball on the edge of the box and rolled past his defender to create a shooting opportunity. His well hit strike was blocked and cleared for a corner with Town knocking on the door.
Preston then looked to keep hold of possession and took the sting out of the next ten minutes of the game. They showed some lovely passing football to spread the play across the pitch, making Town work hard off the ball.
Another Looping free kick into a dangerous area from Ryan Barnett presented Charley Higgs with the opportunity to level before half time, albeit from a tight angle. His shot found the side netting but was a clear warning sign to Preston.
Preston then looked to double their lead in the last five minutes of the first half. First came a shot off target as they picked up a loose ball in the middle before Cam Gregory did well to hold on to two crosses to keep his side in it.
Half Time: Preston North End 1 - Shrewsbury Town 0
Substitution: Reiss Corfield and Jermaine Turner on, Tyrone Ofori and Lewi Redding off.
The second half started slow. Town pressed higher to stop Preston playing as many passes, which ultimately broke up the rhythm of their play leading to a scrap for the ball in the middle.
The first opportunity fell to Preston though, a well hit strike from the edge of the box looked certain to find the top corner before Cam Gregory showed his quality to tip it over the top. A save which was hailed by cheers from the crowd.
In the 55th Preston did get their goal though. Alex Wood swung in a good corner which was originally cleared, but only to Lewis Fensome doubled their lead.
After the goal, Mwandwe looked to mount a town attack down the wing. He came deep to collect the ball and turned his man well to work some space. He then looked to played Hartley down the line but the youngster was ruled offside.
Substitution (61’): Kian Taylor on, Cam Essien off.
The last half hour saw town push for a goal. A lively Lifumpa Mwandwe hit a nice shot inside the box but it was tipped over the top. Barnett then played Higgs through on goal but he could only find the side netting.
Preston earnt a free kick on the edge of the box as they outnumbered Town on the counter. The resulting driven shot was well held by Gregory who’d been in fine form all game.
Town eventually got their goal in the 68th minute. Ryan Barnett found a pocket of space just beyond the half way line to swing in an inviting ball. The keeper came out to clear but could only knock it to the edge of his box to Reiss Corfield, who kept his cool just seven minutes after coming on to slot home.
Town were well and truly back in the game and Ryan Barnett showed real hunger after the goal. The captain did well to slip past two Preston players in the middle with a Marseille turn, before unleashing a powerful strike from the edge of the box which rose just over the crossbar.
Charley Higgs then found space on the edge of the box in the 75th to take a shot, but the keeper managed to hold onto it. Two minutes later, Higgs stepped up again to get on the end of Barnett’s cross but his header was just over the bar.
Town looked certain for an equaliser, Barnett played in a free kick from 25 yards looking for Josh Agbozo but couldn’t find him. Cam Gregory produced a fine save at his near post from the resulting counter.
In the 89th Town did get hit on the counter though. Losing the ball up field, town were left open by a strong run from Alex Wood down the right. He cut into the box before squaring to Howard whose low shot trickled past Gregory, hitting the post on its way in.
Full Time: Preston North End 3 – Shrewsbury Town 1