Preston North End reached the fourth round of the FA Cup for just the second time in eight seasons with a 3-1 win over Huddersfield Town.

It also meant the series between the two ended 3-1 this season with both sides now surely sick of the sight of each other.

Mikey O’Neill starts his first senior game

After a handful of substitute appearances over the last 12 months, on Saturday Mikey O’Neill was handed his first start in professional football.

With Preston North End’s striker options incredibly thin on the ground at the moment, the 18 year-old started in a front two with Ben Woodburn. Neither are really classed as out and out strikers, more so attacking midfielders but with Ched Evans rested for this one there was only Finlay Cross-Adair as another viable option.

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Before the injury to Emil Riis last week it was expected O’Neill would be heading out on loan this month. He did spend a few days training with Rochdale last month but until Preston bring in reinforcements he will be needed.

O’Neill was taken off just after Preston got their equaliser. He was energetic in his 60 minutes but had little service to feed off.

Huddersfield debutant lucky not to see red

The Terriers rotated their team around quite a bit ahead of the game, with survival in the Championship clearly their main aim right now. It saw them hand a couple of debuts and also two first professional starts.

One was for defender Loick Ayina. The 19 year-old Frenchman wasn’t holding back with his tackles and when already on a yellow card he tripped up Ben Woodburn when he had already knocked the ball past him.

It could easily have been another yellow and you feel that if it wasn’t a youngster playing his first game then the referee would have given him his marching orders. The Huddersfield manager could tell it was a risk, and Mark Fotheringham took him off straight after. A lucky escape.

Preston North End v Huddersfield Town: Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

A very shaky game from Freddie Woodman

We’re used to solid performances from Woodman this season but after a couple of below par displays over Christmas, the keeper didn’t look at his best in this FA Cup tie.

He was dragged out of position shortly before the opening goal. Also at 1-1 he inexplicably passed the ball to David Kasumu on the edge of the area. He then tried to chase it back as Kasumu squared for Florian Kamberi but Bambo Diaby was there to clear it off the line and deny the striker a brace on his debut.

5 minutes after Woodman gave the ball away again but luckily not as deep in our half and the defence recovered.

A special moment for Bambo Diaby

After a man of the match performance against Stoke City in my opinion, Diaby was again a key figure for Preston. After the aforementioned goal line clearance he picked up his first goal for the club with a lovely strike following a Ryan Ledson free-kick to put Preston in the lead.

The ball kindly fell for him and he hit a sweet strike into the top corner. It clearly meant a lot to him and the North End fans were delighted to see him on the scoresheet. The goal came at an important time as well with both sides chasing that crucial third goal. He was in the end given man of the match at Deepdale by the sponsors.

Preston North End v Huddersfield Town: Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Photo by Mick Walker – CameraSport via Getty Images

DJ lacking confidence on the edge of the area

As one of our more creative players in the squad we often look to Daniel Johnson for inspiration. Although he’s been in and out of the side so far this season, aside from the Blackburn Rovers game we haven’t seen him at his best.

What I’ve noticed in the past couple of game especially is that he seems very hesitant when in the attacking third. When on a break or in a good position we need to be quick and decisive. He doesn’t seem to fancy a shot on goal very often now even when in a good spot.

He looks to be lacking confidence and he needs a reminder he has been a key player at this level for a long time now. He is a goal scoring midfielder and we’ve seen many curling shots from that left boot find the top corner.

At least we did finally see a first goal of the season for Alan Browne though!

Yet another professional debut

Kaedyn Kamara became the latest player to make his professional debut for Preston North End under Ryan Lowe. The midfielder turned 17 at the end of November and follows in the footsteps of Cross-Adair, Regan Slater, Noah Mawene and Lewis Leigh.

Having been previously on the books at Burnley he is in the first year of his scholarship, he is also a national boxing champion and 12 time world kick boxing champion.

Kamara actually had a decent chance to score his first goal as well. Late on Robbie Brady who returns to the side after a long lay-off picked Kamara out in the box but he couldn’t quite connect with it to guide the ball towards goal. A day he’ll remember for the rest of his career though no doubt.

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