MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Mowbray hopes his side’s reward for an impressive Capital One Cup third-round victory at Preston is a home tie against a top Barclays Premier League club.
First-half goals from Emmanuel Ledesma and Merouane Zemmama put the npower Championship side in control last night and while Jack King pulled one back for League One Preston before the break, Richie Smallwood’s tap-in on the hour killed the game.
Mowbray said: “We’ve had 10 away games on the bounce in this competition so I’m not holding my breath.
“But it’d be nice now to get a home tie and draw a really big Premier League side.
“If we can play well in front of a big crowd at the Riverside then we can keep some of them for the onslaught of a long winter ahead of us in the Championship.”
Mowbray added: “Cup competitions are about winning the football match and getting into the draw for the next round and we’ve managed to do that.
“We started well but the performance level dropped – it was like someone flicked a switch after half an hour and we stopped passing the ball as well as we had been.
“So it was just about refocusing at half-time and going back to what we’d been doing so well in the first half hour and I think on the whole they achieved that.”
Boro made pretty easy work of Preston at Deepdale, dominating from the off. They could have been three up in no time.
Livewire Andy Halliday almost had the first when a great, left-foot strike was tipped away by Steve Simonsen.
The South Shields-born keeper was at it again seconds later when he blocked captain Nicky Bailey’s header.
Simonsen was powerless when a super Luke Williams run set up Smallwood, but the midfielder miscued when he looked favourite to score.
When the first goal finally came, it was a scruffy affair.
Both Ledesma and Halliday claimed to have scored Boro’s 13th-minute opener, with the Argentinian’s inswinging corner striking the far post and rolling over the line with Halliday making sure by bundling in.
There was much more to admire about Boro’s second goal.
Ledesma and Williams were involved in the build up before finding Smallwood whose square pass released Zemmama.
The Moroccan took aim and let fly into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
It was almost 3-0 shortly afterwards when Ledesma’s shot appeared destined for the bottom corner only for Simonsen to make another great fingertip save.
That was to prove crucial to Preston, who pulled one back through Jack King’s smart finish on 40 minutes.
But Smallwood capped a comfortable win for Boro on 61 minutes, pouncing on the loose ball after Preston defender Paul Huntington headed Zemmama’s cross back to Simonsen, too powerfully for the keeper to hold, as the visitors eased to victory.
“Generally I thought we controlled the game and got our just rewards,” said Mowbray.
Preston North End: Simonsen, Laird, Huntington, Cansdell-Sherriff, Wroe, Byrom, Monakana (Hayhurst), Mousinho (Procter), King (Cummins), Amoo, Beavon. Subs: Stuckmann, Buchanan, Wright, Welsh.
Middlesbrough: Leutwiler, McManus, Hines, Parnaby, Zemmama (Emnes), Bailey, Halliday, Arca (Thomson), Smallwood, Ledesma (Haroun), Williams. Subs: Ripley, Amougou, Park, Jutkiewicz
Ref: Stroud Att: 4,959