PNE 0 Oldham Athletic 2
A much-changed North End side bowed out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy after two goals in the first ten minutes gave Lee Johnson's men a 2-0 win at Deepdale.
The visitors took the lead after only 16 seconds of play; an Adam Rooney cross hitting Danny Philliskirk and wrong-footing Thorsten Stuckmann in the Lilywhites’ goal.
They doubled their lead before the ten minute mark, James Wesolowski converting from James Dayton’s cross, with North End down to ten man at the time with Joe Garner receiving treatment for a head wound.
It was a blistering opening from the Latics that left North End cold. Lee Johnson’s men attacked down the left flank from the kick-off, however, John Mousinho – playing as the central man in a back three – appeared to have read the situation well and put in a clearance, however, it ricocheted luckily off Sidney Schmeltz and Adam Rooney drilled a ball across which just hit on loan front man Philliskirk and wrong-footed Stuckmann, rolling into the bottom left hand corner.
Things could have got worse very quickly for North End, a Joseph Mills free kick was palmed away by Stuckmann after John Welsh was very harshly penalised and then Schmeltz capitalised on a short goalkeeping clearance and forced Stuckmann to face a fine low save.
The early pressure brought a second goal nine minutes in. Joe Garner was off the field receiving treatment on a wound on the side of his head and Oldham took full advantageof having the extra man.
This time they raced down the right hand side and James Drayton found space to drill a cross in which was met sweetly on the half volley by James Wesolowski and his shot flew into the top right hand corner, giving North End’s German stopper no chance.
The Lilywhites found themselves with a tough ask, but built their way into the game and had the better of the rest of the first period. Simon Grayson had given professional debuts to Ryan Croasdale and Alex Nicholson, whilst 17-year-old Josh Brownhill was included on the bench.
David Buchanan got things going for North End, his drive from half-way and shot from the edge of the box was well saved by former Blackpool keeper Paul Rachubka on 16 minutes and then shortly after some excellent play down the left by the No.16 gave him a run to the byline. He pulled the ball back cleverly to Nicky Wroe on the edge of the box; he jinked past pne defender, but his left foot shot was just wide of the right hand post.
On the half hour mark Lee Holmes showed good skill and pace down the right, cutting in and giving himself room to shoot, but his effort was just over Rachubka’s cross bar.
Both sides made changes at the break, Tom Clarke and Stuart Beavon on for PNE, with David Mellor on for the visitors, Tarkowski off for Oldham, Mousinho and Croasdale off for PNE. The changes meant North End were 4-4-2 in the second half.
The second half started with intent from North End, their first corner on 52 minutes was right under Rachubka’s cross bar from John Welsh, but the former Man United stopper did well to claim under pressure.
Stuart Beavon was a menace and did well to find Lee Holmes and then react to the wing man’s header with a header of his own from 12 yards out on 65 minutes, but it was straight at the keeper, when anywhere else would probably was brought a goal.
Right on the mid-point of the half a powerful Tom Clarke header from John Welsh’s corner was brilliantly headed out from under his cross bar by Jonathan Grounds as Simon Grayson’s side continued to look for the goal that would re-ignite the tie.
Seventen-year-old Josh Brownhill was given his debut with 14 minutes left, replacing Nicky Wroe in an attacking-midfield role.
With eight minutes left North End had a great opportunity as Alex Nicholson delivered from the right and Joe Garner collected ten yards out, spun and shot in one movement, but was a yard wide of the left hand post. The frontman then dragged a shot wide of the same post after collecting a good through ball from John Welsh moments later as PNE continued to press.
Scott Laird raced onto a ball from Lee Holmes in the final five minutes and drove in from the left flank; he cut inside to shoot, but couldn't get any power behind his effort and Rachubka claimed comfortably.
Joe Garner was the man getting all the chances and in the last minute he found time and space in the box, beat his man to open up the goal, but again dragged the right foot effort just wide of the left hand post.
Referee Oliver Langford added on three minutes of stoppage time, but the visitors held on and ended North End's hopes.
PNE line-up: Stuckmann, Mousinho (Clarke, 46), Huntington, Laird; Nicholson, Croasdale (Beavon, 46), Welsh, Wroe (Brownhill, 76), Buchanan; Holmes; Garner. Subs not used: Rudd, Byrom.
Oldham Athletic line-up: Rachubka, Grounds, Wesolowski, Kusunga (Belezika, 74), Tarkowski (Mellor, 46), Schmeltz, Smith, Rooney, Dayton, Mills (Montano, 83), Philliskirk. Subs not used: Oxley, MacDonald, Montano.
Attendance: 5,987 (827 away fans)
Referee: Mr O Langford