OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2, PRESTON NORTH END 2 (Preston won 10-9 on penalties).
Oldham Athletic suffered a cruel exit from the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy losing a dramatic penalty shootout in the northern quarter final against Preston North End.
It the end it boiled down to the keepers taking spot kicks as Latics’ debut-making Neil Etheridge blazed over while German Thorsten Stuckmann scored for the Lilywhites.
It proved the sequel to an absorbing tie in which Preston took the lead in the opening half through Scott Laird. Latics, lifted by three half-time substitutions, rallied in the second period as goals from Dominic Poleon and Danny Philliskirk put them 2-1 ahead just short of the hour.
Preston hit back to draw level though a Tom Clarke goal 10 minutes from time to force the penalty shootout.
Latics handed a debut to Etheridge, and starts to Michael Tidser, Carl Winchester, James Dayton and Poleon as they made five changes from Saturday’s draw at Sheffield United.
Kevin Davies forced a decent early save from Etheridge before Preston took the lead when Laird headed home a cross from Clarke.
There was a need for change and at half time manager Lee Johnson brought off Winchester, Tidser and Dayton replacing them with Liam Kelly, Brian Wilson and top scorer Jonathan Forte.
And within one minute of the restart, Latics were level when Forte provided the assist for Poleon to fire home the equaliser.
The match ignited as Joseph Mills and Poleon could have given Latics the lead before Davies headed against the upright as Preston almost went 2-1 ahead.
Latics finally went ahead just short of the hour when Forte showed he can provide goals as well as scoring as he supplied his second assist of the game releasing Philliskirk who finished clinically.
Preston would have equalised moments later but for a super save from Etheridge to deny Jermaine Beckford.
The Lilywhites made it 2-2 after 81 minutes when Latics failed to clear a free kick and Clarke stabbed home the ball from close range.
Davies could have won the game for Preston in stoppage time bur contrived to shoot wide from eight yards.
After Philliskirk and Kelly had put Latics 2-1 ahead on penalties, Davies saw his effort saved by Etheridge.
However, the advantage quickly disappeared as the next kick saw Stuckmann save from Jones.
Remarkably the next 16 penalties were netted leaving the keepers last in line as Etheridge shot over while
Stuckmann held his nerve to beat his opposite number as it was the Lilywhites who won through to the northern semi final.