Hartlepool United left Deepdale last night with a feeling of immense pride – but also a sense of injustice.
Pools suffered a last-ditch EFL Cup defeat when Eoin Doyle fired in Preston North End’s winner in the fourth-minute of stoppage time.
But it could have been so different, had Lewis Alessandra’s 66th-minute goal been allowed.
Pools had come out for the second half full of purpose and had already caused the Sky Bet Championship outfit a few flutters when Nicky Deverdics put Alessandra through with a superb ball.
The forward took a neat touch and finished with aplomb from a tight angle past keeper Anders Lindegaard before celebrating in front of the Pools fans at the Bill Shankly End.
It was a goal Shanks would have enjoyed himself, but the celebrations were cut short when the linesman’s offside flag was spotted.
“We were told after the game by a Preston media guy that it appeared that Lewie was onside,” said Deverdics.
“So that was a kick where it hurts.
“But these things happen when you come to the bigger clubs at the bigger stadiums.
“Then we got punished at the end when they caught us on the break when we had been trying to win it at the other end.
“We feel hard done by.
“The offside call looked very tight at the time and you have to accept what the officials rule.
“But then to find out afterwards that he was on, it’s a tough thing to take.
“We’ve worked so hard and put in a great performance.
“While we didn’t trouble them much in the first half, we’ve kept them at bay, and then grown into the game.
“We’ve got at them in the second half and could have won it ourselves.
“To lose it at the end is sickening.”