Ched Evans and Ben Woodburn were on the scoresheet as Preston North End lost 3-2 to Accrington Stanley in the Lancashire Senior Cup quarter-final.
The visitors had the better of the play in the first half and found themselves two goals to the good, with Jack Nolan and Matt Lowe finding the back of the net, before Evans managed to pull one back right at the end of the half.
Woodburn drew level in the early stages of the second period with a great curling finish, but a late penalty from Nolan secured Stanley’s passage to the semi-final.
Accrington were the side asking the early questions and were inches away from taking the lead in the seventh minute as Lowe headed against the bar.
They would soon have their lead as Nolan curled a superb free-kick from distance past James Pradic and right into the corner of the net.
Pradic – fresh from signing a new deal on Monday – was twice called into action around the half-hour mark to deny Joshua Woods and Korede Adedoyin.
There was nothing the ‘keeper could do, though, in the 35th minute as a corner was taken short and the ball was chipped towards the back post, where Lowe was lurking to nod home from close range.
Goalkeeper Jack McIntyre was called into his first meaningful action of the game in the 39th minute as Robbie Brady played it into the path of Layton Stewart, who saw his effort saved, before Woodburn had his follow-up also kept out.
Stanley’s No.1 had a moment to forget in the first minute of stoppage-time, though, as he cleared straight to the feet of Evans, who hit it first time from 20 yards to find an empty net.
Stewart threatened with a low strike early in the second half, before Woodburn levelled matters in the 49th minute – cutting inside and curling a brilliant strike into the far corner.
North End then could have taken the lead within 60 seconds courtesy of substitute Kitt Nelson, but McIntyre got a touch to it to tip it over.
Captain Noah Mawene couldn’t believe he didn’t put his side ahead on the hour mark when he connected with Woodburn’s cross at the back stick, and his touch went along the goal-line and came back out off the post.
Stewart had a big chance of his own nine minutes from time when he was played through by Woodburn, but a defender came up with a crucial touch as he tried to cut inside.
Pradic soon came up with an important save to deny Nolan at the other end, but he was beaten from the penalty spot by Stanley’s No.16, after Bauer had brought down Woods inside the area.
PNE line-up: Pradic; Seary, Ramsay (Pasiek, 45), Bauer, Brady; Horan, N.Mawene; Rodriguez-Gentile (T.Mawene, 75), Stewart, Woodburn, Evans (Nelson, 45). Subs not used: Davis, Brindle.
Referee: Mr S Robinson.