Preston North End progressed into the second round of the Carabao Cup with a comfortable win over Bradford City at the Utilita Energy Stadium.
Goals from the wide men put the Lilywhites two ahead at the interval, Andre Green – on his first start - volleying home at the back post from skipper Tom Clarke’s right-wing cross before Tom Barkhuizen stroked home from 12 yards after Ryan Ledson’s clever through ball.
The goals continued to come for the wingers after the interval, with Barkhuizen adding his second, after capitalising on a defensive mistake just eight minutes into the half, before substitute Josh Harrop added a fourth within 30 seconds of coming on.
It was 11 changes from manager Alex Neil with Green and Tom Bayliss given their first starts, whilst Alan Browne was in the side at right back, Joe Rafferty occupying the left back slot.
After a slow start, the game came to life 13 minutes in. A Green corner from left had Stockley going in for a diving header blocked by Bantams captain Paudie O’Connor, but from the recycled ball the visitors were ahead.
A Browne throw in gave Clarke plenty of time to look up and his deep cross picked out the run of Aston Villa loanee Green, who cushioned a volley into the bottom left hand corner from 12 yards out.
And it could have been 2-0 within 60 seconds as Barkhuizen blasted past the left full back for Bradford and pulled the ball back for Brad Potts, but the man in the No.10 role couldn’t keep his volley down.
However, the second came before the 20-minute mark and Ledson collected the ball in the middle of the pitch, just to the left of the centre circle, and slid a superb ball into Barkhuizen, who collected and slammed a low shot past Sam Hornby into the same spot Green had found.
With 18 minutes left in the half Jayden Stockley was the man to prevent a North End third! There was pinball in the City penalty area and Green’s powerful drive from 20 yards was right into the mid-riff of his team-mate after immense pressure from the Lilywhites – the block preventing a goal-bound effort.
Gary Bowyer’s side started the second half much brighter and Connor Wood went mighty close to pulling one back just two minutes in, a curling effort from 20 yards that beat Connor Ripley, but crashed off the left right corner of the cross bar and was cleared up field.
But the chances started to fall for North End again; Bayliss pressurising Hope Akpan, allowing Potts to get into the box, collect the ball at the second attempt, but he hooked his shot just wide of Hornby’s right-hand post from eight yards out.
And it was 3-0 on 53 minutes as Barkhuizen got his second. A short pass by Anthony O’Connor was intercepted by the PNE No.29, reading it well, and he took the ball inside namesake Paudie O’Connor before firing hard and low into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Bayliss almost got into the act with a debut strike, making a great run into the box on the left, found well by Rafferty, before drifting onto his right foot and curling a shot from the right corner of the box that was inches over Hornby’s bar.
On the 71st minute Josh Harrop came on and within 30 seconds he added the fourth. Browne did superbly to nick the ball and found Barkhuizen just over half-way, he played it into Harrop, who took one touch to control it, one to get it out of his feet and then fired a shot that deflected off Anthony O’Connor and looped over Hornby and into the net.
There was no let up from the visitors as Barkhuizen, Harrop and Potts combined to force a superb block by Tyler French preventing the fifth and Clarke went close with a powerful 15 yard header from a Harrop corner, but it was to finish 4-0.
Bradford City line-up: Hornby, Longridge, P O’Connor (c), A O’Connor, Scannell (Patrick, 73), Doyle, French, Anderson, Akpan, Wood, Devine (Colville, 73). Subs not used: O’Donnell, Mellor, Richards-Everton, Donaldson, Palmer.
PNE line-up: Ripley, Browne, Rafferty, Ledson, Clarke (c), Storey, Barkhuizen, Bayliss, Stockley (Harrop, 71), Potts (Walker, 80), Green (Ginnelly, 72). Subs not used: Crowe, Pearson, Davies, Maguire.
Attendance: 3,456 (917 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr M Donohue