Oldham moved one step closer to Wembley with goals from Danny Philliskirk and Jame Wesolowski securing a 2-0 victory to send them through the the northern area quarter finals of the JPT.
A lacklustre first-half from PNE began when Oldham’s Philliskirk opened the scoring after just 16 seconds. The striker wrong-footed goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann with a mis-hit shot to send the Latics one up.
North End boss Simon Grayson made nine changes from the 2-0 defeat to Peterborough, and it showed when Australian Wesolowski made it 2-0 three minutes later after some terrific work from James Dayton. The number 19 weaved his way past full-back Scott Laird from the right before squaring it to the Aussie, whose half volley struck the top right hand corner, leaving Stuckmann at a standstill.
And to almost complete the nightmare Stuckmann, who was making his first appearance of the season, gave North End a real scare when a pass back to the German almost made its way past the keeper.
Preston’s attempts to hit back proved unsuccessful. A 15 yard run from David Buchanan forced Latics keeper Rachubka to his left, while an effort from Nicky Wroe blazed over.
Oldham manager Lee Johnson will have been pleased with his charges first-half display; as they played a passing style that left the PNE players as spectators at times.
Joe Garner, who looked an isolated figure throughout the first period, headed straight at Rachubka from a free-kick to sum up a dismal first-half for The Lilywhites.
North End improved after the break and almost got back into the game when Lee Holmes’s cross found substitute Stuart Beavon, but the number 10 failed to get any direction on his header.
Fellow substitute Tom Clarke then went close with a pair of headed efforts. The first one needed a goal-line clearance from an Oldham defender, whilst the second sailed over the crossbar.
Some clever play from Garner nearly saw him get on the score sheet, flicking the ball past an Oldham defender before shooting agonizingly wide, whilst a half volley from Lee Holmes fluttered past Rachubka’s goal.
Garner, who found himself with plenty more room in the second-half, perhaps should have lessened Oldham’s advantage after he squandered two decent chances. His low driven effort flew past the post before a miscue from Sidney Schmeltz fell to Garner in the centre of the penalty area, but his effort coasted helplessly wide.
Preston’s failure to convert their chances in the second-half cost them heavily and Beavon wasted another opportunity, as his timid shot was comfortably saved by the Oldham keeper.
Although the Latics were less threatening in the second-half, their stubbornness was enough to send them through as they regularly retained possession, keeping Simon Grayson’s men quiet despite their attempts to get back into the game.