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 progess into the next round.
Simon Jorgensen, Tyler Forbes and Dallison 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.
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. Preston failed to clear their lines and the ball fell to Ben Richards-Everton, who turned and fired a right-footed volley past Chris Maxwell and into the bottom right corner.
Preston grew into the game after conceding, building the pressure and launching several quick attacks of their own, but Stanley’s defence stood firm.
When Preston did breach the Reds’ defence 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 box, Kee’s shot from close range was blocked well by Maxwell.
With twenty minutes to go, Preston levelled the game. A quick counter attack caught Stanley on the break as Horgan’s long ball found Hugill as he raced clear. His strong shot was too powerful for Jorgensen to keep out, despite the Danish shot-stopper’s best efforts.
Jackson found space down the left with less than five minutes to play, and fired in a low, driven cross into the area, beating Maxwell, and Clark was there to slide in and turn the ball home.
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, who rose highest to direct a powerfully headed effort goalwards. Kee got the final touch, beating Maxwell to secure a famous cup victory.