Two goals from Jordan Hugill saw Preston North End twice come from behind against Accrington Stanley, but eventually they went out of the Carabao Cup due to an agonising 93rd minute winner from the home side.
Ben Richards-Everton had given the Reds a first half lead, but Hugill slammed home to level matters. A controversial second from Jordan Clark put John Coleman’s side back in front, but Hugill levelled in the first minute of injury time.
But the East Lancashire side went through to the second round when Billy Kee diverted a header from a corner past Chris Maxwell with just seconds left on the clock.
Manager Alex Neil had made nine changes to the side that took three points on the opening day of the Championship season, at home to Sheffield Wednesday, with debuts for Stephy Mavididi and Kevin O’Connor, with Calum Woods returning to the bench after almost 13 months out through injury.
It was Stanley who showed first, however, recent recruit Kayden Jackson missing a good chance after Jonny Edwards had headed Tom Dallinson’s cross into his strike partner’s path.
North End’s most lively player in the opening stages, Daryl Horgan, dragged a shot just wide of the left hand post, when in a promising position, but on 20 minutes the Lilywhites found themselves behind.
A free kick from the right hand touchline by Sean McConville fell nicely for Richards-Everton at the back post, with the defender showing great composure to control and shoot low into the bottom right hand corner of Chris Maxwell’s goal.
North End dominated possession and chances in the rest of the opening half; Marnick Vermijl firing wide after Liam Grimshaw had threaded him through one-on-one with Simon Jorgensen; Callum Robinson missing wide left and the huge goalkeeper in the Accrington goal denying both Ben Davies – from a Hugill knock down of a Paul Gallagher corner – and Horgan, who ran from deep, played a one-two with Callum Robinson, but the Irishman’s shot was turned around the post.
The equaliser came with 20 minutes to go and it was a stunning counter attack. From the moment Daniel Johnson won the ball on the edge of his own box, it took North End just ten seconds to break upfield and score at the other end, without the ball leaving the deck. Horgan collected the ball from Johnson, drove away from the penalty area, played a one-two with substitute Sean Maguire, before threading Hugill in down a right hand channel. The No.9 reached the edge of the box and drilled hard and low into the bottom left hand corner in front of the 1,736 PNE fans, who braved the rain on the opening terrace, outnumbering the home fans.
Horgan continued to be a thorn in the home team’s side and saw a shot from 20 yards out deflected wide for a corner by Mark Hughes, but against the run of play – and in controversial fashion – it was Stanley who went back ahead on 84 minutes.
Andy Boyle let a long ball down the left bounce, but was then barged off the ball by Jackson. Everyone expected match official Eddie Ilderton to blow the whistle, but he allowed play to go on and the former Barnsley man put the ball across the six yard box and Jordan Clark slid in to steer the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
But it looked like North End had taken the game to penalties one minute into the three signalled for added on time. Maguire collected the ball from Johnson just outside the right hand corner of the penalty area and lifted a lovely cross to the back post to where Hugill rose above Hughes and powered a header into the top right hand corner, much to the delight of the soaked travelling contingent.
However, late drama saw the match end without the need for extra-time when a corner from the right by McConville was headed goalwards by Richards-Everton and Kee diverted the ball past Maxwell from just five yards out, to send Stanley into the second round hat.
There was even time for a late goalmouth scramble at the other end when a Horgan corner from the left saw Maxwell up and Gallagher and Hugill both kept the ball alive, but when the ball came back to the corner-taker, the No.7’s shot into the six yard box ricocheted away and the referee’s whistle ended the contest.
Accrington Stanley line-up: Jorgensen, Forbes, Hughes, Richards-Everton, Nolan, Clark, Brown (Conneely, 81), Edwards (Kee, 46), Jackson, McConville, Dallinson. Subs not used: Chapman, McLeod, Sykes, Sousa, Ogle.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Vermijl, O’Connor, Grimshaw (Maguire, 65), Boyle, Davies, Horgan, Gallagher, Hugill, Robinson (Browne, 80), Mavididi (Johnson, 53). Subs not used: Hudson, Woods, Huntington, Earl.
Attendance: 2,879 (1,736 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr E Ilderton