JOHN Coleman praised his players’ character after clinching a late League Cup scalp in a dramatic cup tie with Preston North End.

League Two Accrington Stanley twice had leads cancelled out by their Championship opponents – the second time in the 90th minute.

But last season’s top scorer Billy Kee popped up with a last ditch stoppage time header to send the Reds into raptures.

“I’m delighted with the result. We were more than a handful for them tonight, we had chances,” said Coleman, who celebrated goals for Ben Richards-Everton, Jordan Clark as well as Kee’s late winner.

“I think if you look at the balance of play as a whole we probably deserved to win. We showed bucket loads of character. I’m disappointed with the goals we conceded but we’re still learning, and we played against a good team. We’ll play against more physical teams but we won’t play against many technically better teams than that, so the lads deserve a lot of credit.

“The never-say-die attitude at the end, at 2-2 with 91 minutes on the clock people are expecting it to go to extra time and we lose the game.

“Our lads showed they’ve got more character than that, chasing lost causes to get the second goal, chasing lost causes to get the third goal shows you what we’re about, and I think this squad will only get better.”

But while Coleman was delighted to book a place in the Carabao Cup second round, he urged his players not to lose focus when it comes to a return to league action with a trip to Yeovil on Saturday.

“We’ve got to use this as a welcome distraction but we’ve not got to let it take our eye off the main prize, which is promotion. That’s what we want and we believe we’re capable of getting it,” added the Stanley boss, who after knocking Burnley out of the same competition last season is now targeting a Lancashire treble, following Blackburn Rovers’ win at Coventry City in the first round last night, but said: “I might be biting off more than I can chew so we’ll hang fire on that.”