Preston North End were beaten 2-0 by Blackburn Rovers in the Lancashire FA Senior Cup quarter-finals, despite having some presentable opportunities.
Former PNE man Ethan Walker scored a brace for the home side, with both goals coming in the latter stages of each half, while North End created plenty of chances at the other end but to no avail.
PNE – who fielded a young side – started the game brightly and were inches away from taking the lead just seven minutes in when Noah Mawene’s cross was so nearly turned home by Kitt Nelson from close range.
Mawene then had a go himself midway through the half and was unfortunate to see his 12-yard effort deflect just over.
Rovers hadn’t had too much joy going forward but it was they who broke the deadlock on 37 minutes when Walker slotted home after good work on the left by Georgie Gent.
North End could have levelled almost instantly through Nelson, who saw his shot tipped wide, while Ethan Eccleston had an effort saved with the final kick of the half.
The hosts had the ball in the back of the net on 61 minutes through Gent after Pradic had parried a Walker strike, but the winger was flagged offside.
At the other end, PNE couldn’t quite believe they didn’t take the lead halfway through the second period. Firstly, Jacob Slater had an effort deflected off the post, and Max Wilson then had two follow-ups from close range remarkably kept out by a defender and then the goalkeeper.
The game opened up at that point, with Rovers enjoying a few fast breaks, but North End remained the side on top and again had a chance to level three minutes from time, with Dowling this time denying Nelson.
Rovers did then make one of their counters pay in the first minute of stoppage-time, with Gent and Walker again combining for a second time to seal the hosts’ place in the semi-finals.
Blackburn Rovers line-up: Dowling; Montgomery, Pratt, Trialist 1 (Gamble, 74), Batty; Weston (Haddow, 61), Edmondson; Trialist 2 (Wood, 45), Harlock, Gent; Walker. Subs not used: Burns, Wood.
PNE line-up: Pradic; Wallbank, Taylor, Coulton; Eccleston, Kamara, Amaral (Pasiek, 45), Mawene, Slater; Wilson, Nelson. Subs not used: Davis, Wilkinson, McGhee, Khan.