Accrington Stanley are through to Round Two of the Carabao Cup after dramatically beating Championship side Preston North End 3-2 at The Wham Stadium.
Billy Kee’s late winner completed a frantic finale that saw three goals in the last seven minutes of the match.
The game looked to be heading to extra-time, despite Jordan Clark giving John Coleman’s side the lead in the 86th minute, when Preston’s Jordan Hugill equalised in the first minute of added time.
But, in the dying seconds, it was Kee’s final touch from Tom Dallison’s powerful header that ensured that Stanley progessed into the next round.
Dallison, Tyler Forbes and goalkeeper Simon Jorgensen made their first starts for the Reds, as John Coleman made five changes to the team that beat Colchester United in League Two on Saturday.
Preston North End made a total of nine changes from the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship on the opening day of the season.
Preston got the game underway, but it was Stanley who started the brighter of the two teams, looking dangerous each time they went forward. Kayden Jackson saw his shot go over the crossbar after three minutes, and Jonny Edwards headed Sean McConville’s freekick the same way after five minutes.
Ten minutes later McConville, wearing the captain’s armband, tested goalkeeper Chris Maxwell from range with a fierce shot. The Preston ‘keeper parried the shot, which bounced up into the path of Edwards, before holding on to the striker’s headed effort.
The Reds continued to attack and took a deserved lead after twenty minutes.
McConville lofted in a freekick from the right following a foul on Mark Hughes, which Preston’s defence failed to deal with. The ball fell to Ben Richards-Everton, who controlled the ball with his knee, turned and fired a left-footed volley past Maxwell and into the bottom right corner.
Preston grew into the game after conceding, launching several attacks of their own, but Stanley’s defence stood firm and Preston rarely tested Jorgensen. Marnick Vermijl blasted his effort high and wide after being played through by Liam Grimshaw.
When the visitors did call Stanley’s debutante goalkeeper into action just before halftime, Jorgensen brilliantly denied the advancing Daryl Horgan’s shot with a fine diving save to his right-hand side.
Kee replaced Edwards at halftime and could have made it two for Stanley just before the hour. After a scramble in the penalty area, Kee’s shot from close range was blocked.
With twenty minutes to go, Preston levelled the game. A quick counter attack caught Stanley on the break as Horgan’s through ball found Hugill racing clear. His strong shot was too powerful for Jorgensen to keep out, despite the Danish shot-stopper’s best efforts.
Both sides then searched for a winner, but it was Jackson who found space down the left with less than five minutes to play. He fired a low, driven cross into the area that beat the defender to find Clark, who slid in and guided the ball past Maxwell to give Stanley the lead.
Hugill equalised for the visitors in the first minute of added time, heading home his second of the game with his effort looping past Jorgensen and into the far corner.
With the game looking set to go into an extra period, McConville’s corner in the final seconds of the game found Dallison in the area, who directed a powerful headed effort goalwards. Kee got the final touch, his glancing header enough to send the ball past Maxwell to secure a famous cup victory.