First PNE goals for Brandon Barker and Graham Burke, sandwiched Louis Moult’s first of the season, as the Lilywhites triumphed 3-1 in the Lancashire derby with Morecambe to book their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup.
Barker announced himself to the North End faithful 14 minutes in as he won the ball in his own half, setting up a counter-attack that saw him eventually receive the ball back off Ryan Ledson and fire low into the bottom right hand corner from 25 yards.
It was 2-0 just after the half hour mark as Moult swept home from just inside the right hand corner of the penalty area after a one-two with Burke. The visitors pulled one back on the stroke of half-time through Liam Manderville, capitalising on a ricocheted clearance to fire the ball home from 15 yards.
But the Shrimps hopes of a comeback were soon extinguished after the break as Burke, like Barker before him, grabbed his first goal in PNE colours, with a very calm finish, driving home from close range after a well-worked passing move, Moult the provider.
It was all change for the Lilywhites, with manager Alex Neil making 11 alterations to the side that faced Swansea City the previous Saturday and they dominated the possession and chances from the off.
In the early minutes there was a signal of what was to come with a wonderful passing move eventually seeing Barker pull back for Daniel Johnson from the left who in turn laid off to Paul Gallagher, who curled a ball out of Shrimps skipper Barry Roche’s reach, but an inch wide of the right-hand post.
The opening goal came before the quarter of an hour mark. The ball was won in his own half by Barker, tracking back. He laid it off to Johnson, who found Ledson, who in turn gave it back to Barker, who ran at the visitors’ defence and fired into the bottom right hand corner from 25 yards with a daisy-cutter right into the inside side-netting witis left foot.
It was almost two just three minutes later; a brilliant save by Roche with his legs to deny Ledson whose shot from a tight angle was goalbound, after a one-two with Burke.
The second came on 33 minutes as Moult collected a loose pass from Jim Bentley’s side, drove at the defence, laid the ball right to Burke, who played it back to the No.9 and he swept home left-footed from 15 yards out into the bottom left hand corner.
A third was close within 60 seconds when Calum Woods was found by Burke in the right-hand corner of the box, forcing Roche into a fine low save to his right; Woods, however, was forced off by a hamstring injury shortly after.
But the north Lancashire side were given a lifeline in first half injury time with their first shot on target, as a ricochet fell into the path of Mandeville, who fired low under Maxwell into the right-hand corner from just inside the centre of the penalty area.
The Shrimps made a change at half-time, adding an extra forward, in search of an equaliser, AJ Leitch-Smith on, but the fourth goal of the game was North End’s.
Gallagher picked up the ball in the middle of the park, 13 minutes after the interval, and found Johnson, he scooped a lovely ball in behind the Morecambe backline to Moult, before the ball was pulled back by the striker for Irish international Burke, who coolly and calmly checked back on his favoured left and buried the ball into the roof of the net from six yards out.
Burke should have had his second and the Lilywhites’ fourth when he was clean through on goal, collecting Oswell’s mis-placed back pass, but Roche made a fantastic save with his out-stretched left boot to deny the No.19 a brace on his home debut with a quarter of an hour left and the score remained 3-1, with North End in the hat for the draw for the second round.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Woods (Fisher, 39), Earl, Ledson, Storey, Huntington (c), Barker (Harrop, 62), Gallagher, Moult, Burke, Johnson (Nmecha, 84). Subs not used: Rudd, Davies, Robinson, Harrop, O’Reilly.
Morecambe line-up: Roche (c), Conlan, Kenyon (Leitch-Smith, 46), Old, Fleming, Oswell, Yarney, Wildig, Mandeville (Ellison, 65), Oates (Mendes-Gomes, 65), Sinclair. Subs not used: Halstead, Oliver, Jagne, Cranston.
Attendance: 6,077 (622 Morecambe fans)
Referee: Mr T Nield