North End booked their place...
...in the thrid round of the Capital One Cup with a convincing 4-1 victory over Dougie Freedman's Crystal Palace.
A stunning first professional goal from Jeffrey Monakana lit up Deepdale as North End felled the Eagles with a high tempo display.
Nicky Wroe and Akpo Sodje put North End two up inside the opening 20 minutes. Aaron Wilbraham reduced the arrears after 37 minutes, but Monakana restored the two goal cushion before the break with a 25 yard screamer into the top right hand corner.
Wroe added his second and North End's fourth just after the hour mark with a beatifully curled effort from the edge of the box as the Lilywhites made it through to the third round.
Palace had made nine changes to their weekend league encounter, with North End boss Graham Westley forced into six of his own, with injuries hitting his squad. This meant a first home start for Will Hayhurst, whilst Steve Simonsen became the 16th debutant of the season, replacing Thorsten Stuckmann between the sticks.
But the new custodian was a mere spectator as North End set off at a blistering pace and had the lead inside the opening two minutes. It was great work from Monakana, operating down the left, who clipped over a deep cross for Akpo Sodje - making his first start - to head back to the penalty spot for skipper Nicky Wroe, who hit a blistering low drive through a clutch of players past Lewis Price and into the back of the net.
Just as in the first round, North End’s tempo was superb from the off and John Welsh, impressive in the middle of the park, played a lovely ball into the channel to put Sodje through one-on-one with Welsh international keeper Price. The keeper spread himself well and tipped the forward’s sho over the bar for a corner.
It was all North End in the opening half of the first period as Nicky Wroe again tested price with a stinging shot from 25 yards, but the keeper was able to claim at the second attempt with Sodje closing him down.
However, he could do nothing to deny Sodje his second goal in as many games, the No.12 doubling PNE’s lead on 18 minutes. It was a controversial strike as the corner that it came from was hotly disputed by the Eahles who felt Huntington’s hooked effort to put the ball back in the box was already out when Price touched it. However, referee Eddie Ilderton gave a corner and Wroe put an inswinger in from the left that Huntington powered goalwards. It was headed off the line back to the centre half, who again poked the ball goalwards. For a second time it was blocked, but only as far as Sodje, who hooked the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Monakana was casuing all sorts of problems with his pace and power down the left and just after the half hour mark he showed a clean pair of heels to two visiting defenders before passing the ball back to Wroe who hit another blistering drive, this time left-footed, from 20 yards out that Darcy Blake did brilliantly to get his body in the way of.
However, with their first attempt on target the visitors got themselves back in the game as on 37 minutes Jonathan Williams got away from two challenges on the left to deliver a ball to the back post to Aaron Wilbraham, the former Norwich man nodding back across Simonsen and into the net.
But North End reclaimed their two goal advantage four minutes before the break and in some style. Jeffrey Monakana hit a 25 strike into top right hand corner – a screamer! It was also down to the hard work of Will Hayhurst tackling back and then Andy Procter to find space and spread the ball in midfield out to the left where Jeff ran before cutting in and letting fly for his first professional goal.
Changes at the interval for both sides saw Chris Robertson on for North End; Zaha and Moritz brough into the game by Dougie Freedman to try and get back into the tie.
The second half started with the visitors pressing to get back into the game, but it came to life just before the hour mark as confusion reigned over a PNE substitution that gave the visitors chance to try and capitalise, but from a corner Will Hayhurst broke and looked set to get clean through until taken out cynically by Darcy Blake. Everyone expected a red card, but it was only yellow for the new signing from Cardiff.
The change eventually saw Buchanan come on for Hayhurst, Monakana moving across to the right, much to the delight of Joel Ward, who he had tormented all night down the Palace full back's flank.
And it was Monakana back on the left that created North End's fourth. They broke from another Palace corner in the 63rd minute with Monakana running onto Wroe's ball into space down the left. The winger held the ball up on the goal line and waited for Wroe to find space on the edge of the box; the No.17 found him on the left hand corner of the box, the skipper steped inside to his right and curled a beautiful shot that Price could only get fingertips to and push it onto the inside of the right hand post and into the back of the net.
Wilfred Zaha became the second Palace man to be lucky not to earm a red card on the night after appearing to punch David Buchanan after a foul on the left flank, but he, like Blake earlier, only received a caution from the lenient official.
This leniency seemed to continue as Scott Laird, not a man to go down easily, was crunched after the ball had gone out, which should have been a penalty, but while he lay prone at one end the referee allowed Palace to break and force Simonsen into the action for the first time, the keeper making a fine low stop to deny Garvan from 20 yards out.
Brilliant determination and effort by almost brought a fifth as he closed down and got a block on a Price clearance and almost laid in Monakana, only for a defender to get back and make a late block, but it was to remain four leaving North End eagerly awaiting the draw for the third round.