Preston North End Match Report
Tues 9th Aug 2011
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.