A second half brace from Paul Gallagher was enough to knock out Championship promotion hopefuls Norwich City at Deepdale.
The North End loanee lashed home Jack King’s knock down from 12 yards out with 20 minutes left before finishing off a fine move after a clever pass from Kyel Reid with five minutes left.
Thorsten Stuckmann was rarely tested by the higher division visitors and the Lilywhites made sure of being ball No.31 in the fourth round draw.
Manager Simon Grayson made five changes to the side that completed 2014’s fixtures with a draw at Crewe, Bailey Wright back for his first start since injury, taking the captain’s armband, whilst Kyel Reid also started and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was named amongst the substitutes.
The game started slowly but North End certainly had the better of the possession and the opportunities in the first half. Josh Brownhill warmed the gloves of England stopper John Ruddy on nine minutes from 30 yards, but the Canaries No.1 was right behind it.
After a quarter of an hour Alan Browne saw a shot deflected after good break down left, Ruddy claiming after a ricochet off Rhys Bennett.
Just after the mid-point of the half a good ball came in from the left by Paul Gallagher, Andy Little did well to hold the ball up and lay off for Reid to drive in a low shot that Michael Turner deflected wide for the first corner of the game to PNE. It was a Reid inswinger from the right and it came back out to Gallagher who delivered for Bailey Wright, but the Aussie was caught in two minds and in the end the header went comfortably back to Ruddy.
Just after the half hour the visitors created their first opening, of sorts, Gary Hooper miss-controlled when going clean through on goal and the ball ran calmly through to Thorsten Stuckmann.
Seven minutes before the break there was huge shouts for handball off Michael Turner from Gallagher’s cross – the video evidence suggesting a definite penalty, but a corner was given.
Just before the interval another Gallagher free kick on left edge of box was fired in with pace, Jack King flashing a header across goal, but out for a goal kick.
North End started the second half on the front foot too and just after the hour mark Reid and Buchanan were hunting in packs down the left to win the ball and allow the left back to race and and drill over a cross that Andy Little met but flashed just wide – his last action before he and Josh Brownhill were replaced by Beckford and Humphrey.
Nathan Redmond, the pacy right winger, fizzed a shot across goal and wide of the left hand post for the visitors as the game entered its final quarter with the tie still goalless.
North End took the lead with 19 minutes left. A free kick on half way from Bailey Wright fdound Jack Kin at the back post, who headed back across goal and it fell nicely for Paul Gallagher who sweetly fired hard and low into the centre of the goal under Ruddy.
And the No.12 doubled the lead with five minutes left. Tremendous play by Jermaine Beckford brought it about, closing down Michael Turner and force the ball to Kyel Reid who hit a superb first time ball inside to Gallagher, who stroked the ball perfectly into the bottom right hand corner of the goal to raise the roof at Deepdale.
Ebanks-Blake replaced the impressive Kyel Reid for his debut just after the goal to warm applause from the near 10,000 crowd who were now enjoying every minute as North End continued to press for more goals, but in the end were happy to settle for the two and a place in the fourth round.
PNE line-up: Stuckmann, Woods, Buchanan, King, Wright (c), Huntington, Reid, Browne, Little (Be3ckford, 63), Brownhill (Humphrey, 63), Gallagher: Subs not used: Jones, Clarke, Kilkenny, K Davies.
Norwich City line-up: Ruddy, Whittaker, Johnson (c), Turner, Howson, Hooper (Lafferty, 69), Hoolahan (J Murphy, 71), Miquel (Loza, 84), Redmond, Bennett, O’Neil. Subs not used: Rudd, Martin, Garrido, McGrandles.
Attendance: 9,807 (1,099 away fans)
Referee: Mr S Attwell