Preston North End came out on the wrong end of a nine goal thriller against Wigan Athletic in the quarter final of the Lancashire FA Senior Cup at Christopher Park.
The Lilywhites were left with a mountain to climb following an early brace by Patrick Antelmi.
But the climbing boots were put on and the summit became nearer when Jack Ryan brought the visitors back into the match in the 23rd minute before Josh Brownhill made it all square heading into the break.
The race to the top was now on and Joseph Johnson restored the Latics’ lead until captain for the day Joel Byrom and Brownhill edged the away side towards the finish line.
But Guillermo Andres pegged PNE back with 17 minutes to go before substitute Ryan Jennings secured a semi-final place for Wigan.
With the first attack of the match the hosts went in front.
Danny Redmond slipping a perfectly weighed pass into the path of Antelmi and the striker made no mistake in burying the ball past Ross Dalton at his near post.
North End looked for an immediate response and a short back pass from Ryan Meadows almost had Ryan clean in on goal.
But Mike Pollitt used all his experience in the Wigan goal to block the striker’s clever little clip as the custodian advanced, Jeffrey Monakana blazing the rebound well over the crossbar.
And the Lilywhites were made to pay for that miss when Antelmi doubled the hosts’ lead in the ninth minute.
A breakdown in communication between Bradley Roscoe and Neil Kilkenny allowed the front man in on goal and he made no mistake in flashing the ball into the bottom left hand corner past the despairing Dalton.
The Preston midfield began to get a grip of the match as the half rumbled on and a clever drag back by Brownhill left two players in his wake before his bouncing shot was gathered by Pollitt.
North End’s perseverance paid off at the midway point in the first half when Ryan pounced on another sloppy pass from the Wigan backline to rifle home into the bottom right hand corner.
It was game very much back on at this point, but Athletic were determined to restore their two goal advantage immediately from the restart, Michael Wilson’s free header at the back post well saved by Dalton from Redmond’s inviting free kick.
The remaining 17 minutes of the half were all about PNE however and a trademark Byrom free kick stung Pollitt’s crossbar before Brownhill grabbed his first of the afternoon.
The Academy product steering his shot from the edge of the box past the goalkeeper from a neat Ryan pass down the right hand channel.
Honours even was a fair reflection on the first period, but Wigan thrust themselves back ahead just four minutes after the restart.
Luke Dobie picked out Johnson on the left and he fired his shot across goal finding the bottom corner of Dalton’s net.
Byrom thought he had North End back on level terms in the 59th minute, but his shot cannoned off a Wigan defender and out for a corner, following lovely build up play down the right by Brownhill and Joe Whittington.
The captain had his goal just 60 seconds later however, with a beautiful left foot curling effort from around 25 yards which beat Pollitt all ends up.
In the 68th minute the visitors got their noses in front for the first time and once again it was Brownhill who supplied the finishing touch.
Kilkenny clipped a pass in to Ryan on the edge of the area and the target man knocked the ball down into the path of the North End No.10 who made no mistake with the finish down low to Pollitt’s right.
Similarly to Preston in the early stages of the match, Wigan responded well to falling behind and Andres was next on the scoresheet as he controlled his half volley with the side of his right boot superbly to make it four apiece.
With time ticking down and penalty kicks looming, it was the home side that snatched the semi-final berth on offer through substitute Jennings.
With the young North End defence exposed, Jennings raced clear before finishing well past Dalton to his left.
The Lilywhites were determined to fight right to the death however and Nick Anderton done everything right at the back post from Byrom’s corner, but his goal bound effort was brilliantly blocked by a Latics’ defender.
And with time almost expired, substitute Sean Homes failed to get his head on Ryan’s hooked over head pass with the goal gapping.
A miss which was to be PNE’s final chance of the match as Wigan held on.