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Preston North End Match Report

Preston North End
3 - 2
Crewe Alexandra


Tues 9th Aug 2011

Attendance: 5,401


Crewe Alex exited the first round of the carling cup in disappointing fashion as 2 late goals swung the game in Prestons favour to give them a slightly undeserved 3-2 win.

Crewe boss Dario Gradi made 2 changes from the side that started at Swindon with AJ Leitch-Smith and Luke Murphy being selected ahead of Ash Westwood and Danny Shelley.

Preston started the game on the front foot and found themselves 1-0 within 4 minutes thanks to some shoddy defending and a slice of luck. Paul Parry sent in a cross from the left that missed 2 Crewe defenders and hit the unfortunate Matt Tootle and went in. It was a big blow for Crewe to find themselves 1-0 down but the response from the team was good.

10 minutes later Crewe found themselves level, as a slip in midfield allowed Nick Powell to steal possession and lead a counter. He played a great ball to Miller whose first shot was blocked but the ball fell kindly and he hit a sweet volley to bring Crewe level with 16 minutes on the clock.

Preston then had a glorious chance to re-take the lead as Neil Mellor narrowly put wide after good work from Jamie Proctor. Crewe then had a great chance to take the lead of great build up play from Miller and Leitch-Smith led to Byron Moore forcing a smart save out of Ian Turner in the Preston goal. Preston continued to play attractive football and dominate possession without creating too many chances.

The game went slightly flat as half time approached but it was Crewe who took the lead with minutes to go from a surprising source. Nick Powell sent a corner into the box which caused confusion in the Preston defence and Dave Artell rose at the far post to head home.

Preston emerged for the 2nd half and went on the offensive looking for an equaliser and a way back into the match. Powell was pulling the strings for Crewe going forward as his vision and passing was causing all sorts of problems. At the other end Lee Bell had to be alert to block a Neil Mellor shot.

Preston manager Phil Brown showed his hand early, making all 3 subs within 20 minutes of second half starting. Niel Mellor then forced a brilliant save out of Phillips as his low header looked goal bound only for Phillips to superbly tip it round the post.

Danny Shelley replaced Leitch-Smith on 74 as Luke Murphy tested Turner with a long range effort. Paul Coutts then forced another great save from Phillips as he got down to tip a low shot to safety.

Crewe were looking dangerous on the counter and should have increased their lead with 12 minutes to go. More good work from Powell released Miller inside the area but he could only hit his shot straight at the keeper and he put the rebound wide. It was a glorious chance to potentially kill off the game.

Then disaster struck. A Devine shot hit Niel Mellor and snuck into the far corner leaving Phillips with little chance of saving it. It was harsh on Crewe who had been holding firm in the face of Preston pressure.

As extra time beckoned Preston stole a late winner. A delightful ball was whipped into the box and Ian Hume was on hand to head home. Crewe rallied and forced a couple of corners but Preston held on to inflict a cruel defeat on Crewe and send them out of the carling cup.

Star Player

Nick Powell - Once again the young Crewe player was a thorn in Prestons side, looking bright, eager and confident on the ball. He coped well in a wide left role but did look more comfortable in the centre of the park. Another promising performance from the youngster, who may well become a vital player for Crewe in the near future.

Player Ratings

Steve Phillips

Once again he could do little for all 3 goals as he was let down by his defence. Made 2 cracking saves in the 2nd half. 8/10

Harry Davis

Not a great performance from the young lad, who seems to lack the mobility required of a full back. His distribution was ok, but, whilst not doing too badly overall, doesn't look suited to being a full back. 6/10

Dave Artell

Took his goal well and did ok, but still susceptible and looked shaky at times. 6/10

Adam Dugdale

Like Artell, didn't do too much wrong, but his decision making wasn't the greatest. 6/10

Matt Tootle

Really struggled at left back. Didn't get forward as often as he likes to and had a difficult night. 5/10

Luke Murphy

Struggled to really impose himself in the middle of the park. His work ethic was good, but his passing at times was wayward. 6/10

Lee Bell

Did a solid enough job in front of the back 4. 6/10

Byron Moore

Gave Prestons defence real problems with his runs and skills. faded slighly in the 2nd half but always a threat. 7/10

Nick Powell

MOTM. Once again another good display by the youngster. Was a menace both down the left and through the middle, giving the Preston back 4 no end of problems. Big future for this lad. 8/10

AJ Leitch-Smith

Didn't really do anything of note and didn't make any sort of impact in the game. Missed 1 half chance in the 2nd half, but overall not very impressive. 6/10

Shaun Miller

Mixed bag from Miller. Did really well for his goal, but didn't do too much else. Made the wrong decision on a few occasions and missed a great chance at 2-1. Also booked for a stupid handball in the dying seconds. 7/10

Danny Shelley

Barely touched the ball as he tried to get into the game. did nothing of note, but in his defence he did little wrong. 6/10


Much better going forward, slightly better at the back, link up play was better.


Defence still looks fragile and un-balanced, decision making and clinicalness in the forwards needs work, heads dropped after the 2nd Preston goal went in.


An improved performance after Swindon, but still big question marks over the defence and the mentality when not winning is worrying.

Date:Wednesday August 10 2011
Time: 2:46AM

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