Dichio brace seals victory
By Stephen Bateman
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
A Danny Dichio brace was enough to see Preston to a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
A Danny Dichio brace was enough to see Preston to a 2-1 FA Cup replay win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening.
Billy Davies's men extended their unbeaten run to 23 matches and booked a fifth round tie against either Coventry or Middlesbrough thanks to the former Sunderland target man's 88th minute winner.
Darren Ward had put Palace ahead after 26 minutes, but his effort was cancelled out by Dichio's first goal on 35 minutes. This was the third time that the two teams had met in a little over a week, and throughout the match both sides cancelled each other out in a terse affair which failed to spark into life.
The game started scrappily and a sparsely populated Selhurst Park had to wait 26 minutes before Palace scored with the first real opportunity of the evening. Jobi McAnuff pinged a corner into the near post, where defender Ward reacted first to sweep the ball home left-footed from the edge of the six yard box.
With the second chance of the game, some nine minutes later, Preston equalised. Marco Reich brought Chris Sedgwick down midway inside the Palace half and from the resulting free kick Dichio did well to peel away from his marker before arcing a header just inside Gabor Kiraly's far post.
The second half began much in the same vain as the first with chances at a premium as the game lacked any kind of fluency or rhythm. Marco Reich fired a shot well wide after 64 minutes but neither side looked capable of breaking down two very well organised defences.
With both teams challenging for the play-offs, the last thing either Iain Dowie or Billy Davies wanted was extra time, and with a quarter of the game remaining they both threw on attacking substitutes in an effort to break the deadlock.
Former North End striker Jon Macken replaced Dougie Freedman for Palace while Davies introduced prolific marksman David Nugent at the expense of the disappointingly ineffective Lewis Neal.
In a rare start at the heart of the Preston defence, Chris Lucketti made light work of marshalling the dangerous Andy Johnson, but the former Birmingham man almost broke the deadlock after scampering unchallenged into the penalty area.
He unleashed a furious right-footed drive which seemed to take Carlo Nash by surprise, and the former Stockport shot-stopper will have been relieved to see the ball squirm underneath him before rolling agonisingly wide of his left-hand upright.
With the prospect of extra time looming large, Dichio stepped up to spare the paying public from a further 30 minutes of scrappy midfield monotony. Paul McKenna angled a free kick into the Palace area, where Dichio took advantage of some woeful marking to nod home from close range.