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Preston North End 1 Rovers 3

6 January 2019

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Rovers secured a place in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round for the first time since 2009/10 with sublime victory at Sky Bet Championship side Preston North End.

An early goal from Rovers' top scorer John Marquis set the tone for a cup upset at Deepdale, while late strikes from Tom Anderson and Mallik Wilks ensured victory.

Grant McCann made no changes from the Rovers team who had blown away Rochdale F in Sky Bet League One on New Year's Day. Lilywhites manager Alex Neil made just two changes from his side who started 2019 with a defeat away at Rotherham, Michael Crowe made his professional debut between the sticks and Tom Clarke dropped to the bench to be replaced by Darnell Fisher at right back.

It took just five minutes for John Marquis to register his nineteenth goal of the season. Resolute defending in the face of some very early pressure from the home side gave Rovers the chance to break. A sublime Ben Whiteman pass found Matty Blair in space on the right, his cross found the head of an unmarked John Marquis who headed past 'keeper Crowe.

Quick counter-attacking continued to provide Rovers with their best opportunities in the opening exchanges. Loanees Herbie Kane and Mallik Wilks both went close whilst John Marquis was inches from a doubling the lead within fifteen minutes when his headed effort from a corner was cleared off the line by Preston's Graham Burke.

Burke was soon in action at the other end, a shot from distance flying just over the bar before his headed effort required a smart save from Ian Lawlor.

Lawlor was called upon again soon after. Rovers struggled to head a corner clear, the ball dropped to Preston's Andrew Hughes at the edge of the eighteen-yard box but the left-back's effort was straight at the 'keeper.

Preston finished the half the stronger team, another golden chance falling to Hughes right on half time, the defender lashed his effort against the post.

Rovers appeared to be in control of the second half with Mallik Wilks afforded two opportunities to double the lead inside five minutes of the restart. However, it would be third time unlucky for Rovers as Hughes headed passed Lawlor from a corner to level the score.

Preston started to exert some pressure and would have taken the lead if not for an excellent double save from Lawlor on the hour mark.

The introduction of James Coppinger would be the turning point for Rovers. The 37-year-old used all his experience to drive Rovers forward and create two good chances for himself within minutes of coming on.

Rovers were able to capitalise on their period of pressure. A Danny Andrew free-kick caused chaos in the Preston penalty box, ricocheting off both sets of players before falling to Tom Anderson. The centre-backed used all of his 6"4 to reach out a leg and poke the ball over the line.

Minutes later, Rovers had an excellent opportunity to put the game beyond their hosts as Marquis and Kane broke passed the Preston defence, a superb sliding block from centre-back Paul Huntington the only thing denying Kane a tap-in. At the other end, Preston threw away an excellent chance of their own with substitute Alan Browne somehow heading wide from close range.

A place in the FA Cup fourth round was secured on the 87th minute when Mallik Wilks pounced on a defensive mix-up between Crowe and Jordan Storey and calmly finished into an empty net.


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