By Connor Billington – Reporter
Eoin Doyle found the net deep into second half stoppage time to send North End into the second round of the EFL Cup, just as it looked like the tie was heading in to extra-time.
The striker who signed permanently at the club this summer, turned the ball home after Chris Humphrey’s low cross found its way across the box from the right-hand side to give the Championship side a 1-0 win.
After a poor start in the league at Reading a few days ago, some expected several changes for this tie, but Grayson made just two, with Alan Browne and Eoin Doyle replacing the injured Tom Clarke and Jermaine Beckford who dropped to the bench.
The first-half was as one-sided as it comes with Preston sat inside the Hartlepool half for the majority of the first 45 minutes.
The first shot on target came after Ben Pringle volleyed towards goal from the back-post after a Cunningham cross, but the keeper did well to deny him.
Joe Garner then had the ball in the net for the home side only for the linesman to controversially have his flag up indicating offside.
Alan Browne then came close to breaking the deadlock after he connected with Gallagher’s corner sweetly but the header went just over the crossbar.
Hartlepool had been much livelier in the second half and forced a few comfortable saves out of Lindegaard in the Preston net.
Jordan Hugill deserves credit for his efforts after the striker’s introduction, looking dangerous and creating chances at every opportunity.
Preston hit the woodwork after Doyle seized on Robinson’s blocked effort, only to take a touch to create space away from the ‘keeper before finding the left-hand past as frustration was growing.
A penalty box scramble then saw both Doyle and Hugill have efforts at goal but neither could find a way to break the deadlock.
It looked like Preston’s last chance had come and gone when Doyle and Robinson broke only for the latter to blaze his shot over the bar from no more than eight yards out.
But they created one more, this time it Chris Humphrey who broke into space down the right-hand side, the sub fired a low cross which somehow found its way to Eoin Doyle who was waiting to turn it home at the death.