|Feeney 31||Venue: The Den
LIAM Feeney fired Millwall into the fourth round of the FA Cup with the only goal of the game against League One side Preston North End.
Feeney’s first-half strike was enough to see off the Lillywhites, who battled bravely after the break and could have equalised through Graham Cummins.
Kenny Jackett made two changes to his starting line-up after deciding to rest Danny Shittu and Liam Trotter, with Josh Wright and Karleigh Osborne coming into midfield and defence respectively.
Meanwhile, 17-year-old striker Conor Wilkinson was named in the first-team squad for the first time and took up his place on the substitutes’ bench.
Millwall had a chance to take the lead in the fourth minute when, after James Henry’s free-kick had only been cleared to the edge of the area, Shane Lowry fired the loose ball goalwards but ‘keeper Steve Simonsen tipped his shot around the post.
Darius Henderson went close to opening the scoring twice in quick succession in the 20th minute when his header was held by Simonsen before his ferocious shot rattled the bar.
Preston could have gone ahead soon after when a long free-kick was flicked into the path of defender Paul Huntington, but he could not keep his first-time volley down and blazed over.
But the deadlock was broken in the 31st minute when Adam Smith cut the ball back to Feeney, whose shot from inside the area took a wicked deflection and went in.
Jimmy Abdou, who was made captain for the day in Shittu’s absence, took aim from the edge of the area but his looping shot drifted harmlessly into the side netting.
There was a moment of danger at the other end when Todd Kane beat David Forde to Stuart Beavon’s cross, but the midfielder’s header went wide.
It should have been 2-0 to the Lions in the 41st minute but Dany N’Guessan somehow failed to turn in Henry’s cross-shot, before Nicky Wroe nearly equalised for the visitors with a shot from close range.
Henderson spurned another clear-cut opportunity to double Millwall’s advantage early in the second-half when he raced onto Lowry’s through ball, but David Buchanan made a crucial tackle as he went to pull the trigger.
The striker got his shot away on the Lions’ next attack but Simonsen got down well again to make the save. Mark Beevers could have scored his second goal for the club when he met Josh Wright’s cross, but his header flew well over.
Preston began to grow into the game and former Millwall trainee David Amoo headed over unmarked from a corner in the 74th minute.
Beavon went even closer to finding a leveller when he dug out a shot inside a crowded area, but the ball drifted inches wide with Forde rooted to the spot.
In the 86th minute, Forde ensured the Lions’ passage into the next round with a crucial block to deny sub Cummins, who had riggled his way past Smith at the back post.
Millwall: Forde, A.Smith, Lowry, Abdou, Osborne, Beevers, Feeney (Batt, 46mins), Wright, Henderson (J.Smith, 86mins), N’Guessan, Henry. Subs not used: M.Taylor, Dunne, Marquis, Racon, Wilkinson.
Preston: Simonsen, Huntington, Robertson, Cansdell-Sherriff (Byrom, 46mins), Wroe, Kane (Amoo, 46mins), Buchanan, Welsh, Mousinho (Cummins, 81mins), King, Beavon. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Proctor, Beardsley, Hayhurst.