Young midfielder Richard Smallwood earned Middlesbrough a place in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.
The 21-year-old ended Preston's hopes of a shock after Jack King had brought the League One side back into the game.
Middlesbrough, showing 11 changes to the side that beat Blackburn in the Championship last Friday, went two up inside 18 minutes thanks to Emmanuel Ledesma and Merouane Zemmama.
Middlesbrough's 10-year League Cup record
- 2012: 3rd round
- 2011: 2nd round
- 2010: 2nd round
- 2009: 3rd round
- 2008: 3rd round
- 2007: 2nd round
- 2006: Quarter-finals
- 2005: 4th round
- 2004: Winners
- 2003: 3rd round
King pulled one back for Graham Westley's side before Smallwood struck.
North End beat Championship sides Huddersfield and Crystal Palace to reach this stage of the competition.
But Middlesbrough, who had knocked out League Two side Gillingham in the last round, proved too strong as a trio of defensive errors put out Preston in the third round for the fourth year running.
Both Ledesma and Andrew Halliday claimed to have scored Boro's opener, with the Argentine's inswinging corner striking the far post and rolling over the line before Halliday made sure by bundling in.
Five minutes later, Preston allowed Zemmama far too much time to shoot into the bottom corner from 25 yards, but the hosts pulled one back through King's smart finish.
Smallwood capped a comfortable win for Boro, pouncing on the loose ball after Steve Simonsen stopped Preston defender Paul Huntington heading Zemmama's cross into his own net.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray:
"For long spells we were good, we controlled the game and got our just rewards. The pitch stood up well and in cup games it's about getting through and into the next round.
"We got the job done and we could have scored a few more goals when we were breaking away. I'm pleased with them all, they all applied themselves.
"We move onto the weekend now."
Preston North End manager Graham Westley:
"We were unlocked by a very good quality side. Does it scare me to think we need to compete at that level if we get promotion? No.
"We produced good performances and results against Crystal Palace and Huddersfield, and Middlesbrough were the best of the three we've faced.
"I'm sure if they don't get promotion to the Premier League they'll come very close to it."
Preston North End
- 23 Simonsen
- 03 Laird
- 04 Huntington Booked
- 06 Cansdell-Sherriff
- 08 Wroe
- 13 Byrom
- 17 Monakana (Hayhurst - 79' )
- 21 Mousinho (Procter - 86' )
- 22 King (Cummins - 79' )
- 07 Amoo
- 29 Beavon
- 01 Stuckmann
- 16 Buchanan
- 26 Wright
- 18 Procter
- 19 Welsh
- 24 Hayhurst
- 09 Cummins
- 32 Leutwiler Booked
- 06 McManus
- 15 Hines
- 21 Parnaby
- 05 Zemmama (Emnes - 62' )
- 10 Bailey
- 18 Halliday
- 20 Arca (Thomson - 86' )
- 33 Smallwood Booked
- 11 Ledesma (Haroun - 63' )
- 22 Williams
- 31 Ripley
- 03 Amougou
- 08 Thomson
- 24 Park
- 38 Haroun
- 09 Emnes
- 17 Jutkiew'z
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The match has reached full-time.90:00 +4:49
Shot by Marvin Emnes. Blocked by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff.90:00 +4:20
Unfair challenge on Marvin Emnes by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Marvin Emnes.90:00 +0:19
Scott Laird has an effort at goal from 20 yards. Scott Laird takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Andrew Halliday makes a clearance. Stuart Parnaby manages to make a clearance.89:40
Foul by Nicky Bailey on Graham Cummins, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Scott Laird.88:25
Shot from 25 yards from Marvin Emnes. Stuart Beavon gets a block in. Drilled right-footed shot by Stuart Beavon. Save by Jayson Leutwiler.85:09 Substitution
Substitution Kevin Thomson comes on in place of Julio Arca.85:09 Substitution
Substitution (Preston) makes a substitution, with Andy Procter coming on for John Mousinho.84:32
Andrew Halliday takes the free kick.84:32 Booking
Booking Paul Huntington receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.83:57
Free kick awarded for a foul by Paul Huntington on Marvin Emnes.81:55 Booking
Booking Jayson Leutwiler receives a caution.79:45
Graham Cummins takes a shot. Seb Hines gets a block in. Drilled left-footed shot by Scott Laird. Jayson Leutwiler makes a save. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Nicky Wroe from the left by-line, Luke Williams manages to make a clearance.79:22
Marvin Emnes is ruled offside. Paul Huntington takes the indirect free kick.78:38 Substitution
Substitution Jack King leaves the field to be replaced by Graham Cummins.78:38 Substitution
Substitution William Hayhurst joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jeffrey Monakana.77:42
Luke Williams takes a shot. Save by Steve Simonsen. Short corner taken by Luke Williams.72:49
Shot by Faris Haroun. Save made by Steve Simonsen. Corner taken right-footed by Luke Williams from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Joel Byrom.71:50
Joel Byrom takes the free kick.71:50 Booking
Booking Richard Smallwood booked.
Foul by Julio Arca on Jeffrey Monakana, free kick awarded.70:00
Corner from the left by-line taken by Nicky Wroe, Jack King takes a shot. Save made by Jayson Leutwiler. Stuart Beavon takes a shot. Jayson Leutwiler makes a save.68:40
Luke Williams has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the target.64:28
John Mousinho fouled by Luke Williams, the ref awards a free kick. John Mousinho takes the free kick.64:13
Faris Haroun is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Scott Laird restarts play with the free kick.60:55 Goal scored
Goal! - Richard Smallwood - Preston 1 - 3 Middlesbro Richard Smallwood finds the back of the net with a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Preston 1-3 Middlesbrough.60:41 Substitution
Substitution Emmanuel Ledesma leaves the field to be replaced by Faris Haroun.60:41 Substitution
Substitution Marvin Emnes replaces Merouane Zemmama.60:41
Emmanuel Ledesma crosses the ball, clearance by Scott Laird.59:31
Scott Laird sends in a cross, Effort from inside the area by David Amoo misses to the left of the target.58:28
David Amoo fouled by Andrew Halliday, the ref awards a free kick. Joel Byrom delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, clearance by Nicky Bailey.58:00
Merouane Zemmama gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Joel Byrom. Direct free kick taken by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff.57:18
Luke Williams takes a shot from 25 yards. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Luke Williams, save made by Steve Simonsen.55:30
Joel Byrom has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box which goes wide right of the target.53:16
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stuart Parnaby by Jack King. Jayson Leutwiler takes the free kick.53:00
The ball is swung over by David Amoo, clearance made by Seb Hines.51:48
Stuart Beavon sends in a cross, Header from deep inside the area by David Amoo goes over the bar.50:38
Foul by Stuart Parnaby on Jeffrey Monakana, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Scott Laird.46:06
The referee blows for offside against Emmanuel Ledesma. Scott Laird takes the indirect free kick.45:01
The referee gets the second half underway.45:00 +2:14 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.39:30
David Amoo provided the assist for the goal.39:30 Goal scored
Goal! - Jack King - Preston 1 - 2 Middlesbro Jack King grabs a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Preston 1-2 Middlesbrough.38:22
Shot from 20 yards by Emmanuel Ledesma. Steve Simonsen makes a save. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Jack King, Seb Hines makes a clearance.35:45
Shot by Joel Byrom. Save made by Jayson Leutwiler.34:41
Unfair challenge on Andrew Halliday by John Mousinho results in a free kick. Jayson Leutwiler restarts play with the free kick.32:49
Joel Byrom takes the inswinging corner, Scott Laird produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.29:11
Outswinging corner taken by Nicky Wroe from the right by-line, save by Jayson Leutwiler.27:54
Stuart Beavon takes a shot from 20 yards. Blocked by Seb Hines.27:16
Free kick awarded for a foul by Emmanuel Ledesma on Scott Laird. Nicky Wroe takes the direct free kick.26:39
Stuart Parnaby concedes a free kick for a foul on David Amoo. Scott Laird restarts play with the free kick.25:25
Corner from the right by-line taken by Joel Byrom, Header by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.22:53
Unfair challenge on Nicky Bailey by David Amoo results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Merouane Zemmama.22:25
Unfair challenge on Richard Smallwood by Nicky Wroe results in a free kick. Nicky Bailey restarts play with the free kick.22:02
Emmanuel Ledesma has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the goal.19:30
Foul by Luke Williams on Nicky Wroe, free kick awarded. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff restarts play with the free kick.17:41
Assist by Richard Smallwood.17:41 Goal scored
Goal! - Merouane Zemmama - Preston 0 - 2 Middlesbro Merouane Zemmama gets on the score sheet with a goal from just outside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Preston 0-2 Middlesbrough.16:24
Foul by Stuart Beavon on Jayson Leutwiler, free kick awarded. Jayson Leutwiler restarts play with the free kick.14:54
The ball is delivered by John Mousinho, Stephen McManus gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken by Nicky Wroe, Jack King takes a shot. Blocked by Seb Hines. Corner taken by Scott Laird from the right by-line, save by Jayson Leutwiler.12:41 Goal scored
Goal! - Emmanuel Ledesma - Preston 0 - 1 Middlesbro Emmanuel Ledesma gets on the score sheet with a goal from just outside the box low into the middle of the goal. Preston 0-1 Middlesbrough.12:29
Emmanuel Ledesma takes a inswinging corner to the near post,11:08
Unfair challenge on Luke Williams by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff results in a free kick. Merouane Zemmama fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick.9:54
Emmanuel Ledesma crosses the ball, clearance made by David Amoo. Corner taken by Emmanuel Ledesma, Header on goal by Seb Hines from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.6:32
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jack King by Julio Arca. Direct free kick taken by John Mousinho.4:58
Julio Arca takes a shot. Save by Steve Simonsen. Inswinging corner taken by Emmanuel Ledesma, save by Steve Simonsen. Corner taken left-footed by Emmanuel Ledesma from the right by-line, save by Steve Simonsen.4:20
Emmanuel Ledesma takes a shot. Blocked by Jeffrey Monakana. Corner taken left-footed by Emmanuel Ledesma to the near post, Scott Laird makes a clearance.3:48
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Julio Arca by David Amoo. Free kick taken by Julio Arca.3:07
Effort on goal by Julio Arca from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.0:00
The referee starts the match.
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