Preston North End progressed to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a 4-1 victory over Cheltenham Town.
North End went into the break two goals to the good over their League One opposition, courtesy of two defenders in Andrew Hughes and Joe Rafferty, both scoring their firsts of the season.
Cheltenham pulled one back soon after the break with Kyle Vassell slamming home, but Sean Maguire's finish ten minutes from the end restored the two-goal lead and Emil Riis then confirmed PNE's progress in the competition.
Frankie McAvoy opted to make seven changes from the weekend’s draw with West Brom, with Ali McCann and Connor Wickham handed full debuts, but the latter was forced off just seven minutes in after being injured in an early challenge, with Sean Maguire coming on in his place.
Taylor Perry had the first effort of the game for either side, seeing his deflected shot saved by Declan Rudd on 14 minutes, while PNE’s best early moments involved Greg Cunningham crosses from the left trying to find fellow wing back Rafferty at the far post.
Emil Riis soon had a big opportunity after being found by a lovely floated ball from Maguire. The Dane took it down nicely on his chest, but he swung and missed in his attempt to volley.
Goalkeeper Owen Evans was beaten just a few minutes later, though, when Hughes rose highest in the box to connect with Whiteman’s corner from the left and find the net to break the deadlock.
North End then went two up after 37 minutes, with the two wing backs once again connecting, this time resulting in a goal as Cunningham’s cross successfully found Rafferty, who tapped home with the aid of a deflection.
Just before the break, a nick off a defender wasn’t as kind to Whiteman, as a Cheltenham man got in the way of his effort to send it just the wrong side of the post.
It was a comfortable first half for PNE in truth and that remained the case in the early stages of the second, but just moments after coming on as a substitute, Vassell got a goal back for his side in the 56th minute, firing into the roof of the net after Hughes’ header fell to the forward.
At the other end, Maguire tested the palms of Evans on 68 minutes and he came close again when he flicked Whiteman’s corner just over the bar.
The Irishman did get his goal before time was up, though, as he received the ball with his back to goal before turning to finish past Evans in the visiting goal.
Riis then got his seventh goal in all competitions as he made it four in stoppage time, slamming past the goalkeeper from outside the area.
PNE line-up: Rudd; Storey, Lindsay (van den Berg, 31), Hughes; Rafferty, Whiteman, McCann, Potts (Browne, 80), Cunningham; Riis, Wickham (Maguire, 7). Subs not used: Iversen, O’Reilly, Earl, Rodwell-Grant.
Cheltenham line-up: Evans; Horton, Pollock, Freestone; Blair (Bonds, 78), Thomas (Raglan, 78), Barkers, Perry, Chapman; May, Williams (Vassell, 54). Subs not used: Flinders, Long, Armitage.
Attendance: 6,561 (218 away fans)
Referee: Mr D Whitestone