By Jack Wynne – Sports Editor
PNE’s five-match unbeaten run came to an end, the Lilywhites suffering a 2-1 defeat against Cardiff City in Wales.
Anthony Pilkington put the Bluebirds in front from the penalty spot a minute before the interval after he was fouled by Paul Huntington inside the box.
Pilkington scored his second penalty of the afternoon with 11 minutes of normal time remaining, after the assistant on the far side appeared to spot Tom Lawrence being pulled back.
Callum Robinson scored a late consolation for North End, his second in as many matches, guiding the ball into the top corner after Greg Cunningham’s cut back.
Starting the match were the same eleven which played against Charlton on Tuesday and the previous three matches.
Peter Whittingham and Fabio were injured for the Bluebirds, forcing Cardiff manager Russell Slade to bring in Lee Peltier and Aron Gunnarsson.
17 minutes played, Gunarsson tried his luck from distance, hitting a dipping shot which was easily claimed by Preston goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.
Pilkington’s cross struck the inside of the post before Lindegaard smothered the danger.
Daniel Johnson plays In Adam Reach, who races into the box before firing wide of the target from an acute angle.
Lindegaard then made a brilliant double save to keep the scores level, first diverting Pilkington’s header onto the post before putting his body in the way of Lex Immers’ follow-up effort.
Immers had another chance three minutes before the interval, latching onto a cross from the by-line before heading wide.
Pilkington fired City in front from 12 yards a minute later, referee Brendan Malone pointing to the pot after the Bluebirds striker was fouled by Huntington.
Into the second half, Alan Browne failed to test Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall, diverting Paul Gallagher’s corner wide.
On the hour, Pilkington was denied a second goal, his shot being blocked superbly by Lindegaard after Scott Malone’s cross.
Reach looked to have pulled PNE level in the 65th minute after his shot ended up in the back of the net but the linesman’s flag was already up for offside.
Pilkington did eventually score his second in the 79th minute, once again converting from the penalty spot after Tom Lawrence appeared to be pulled back inside the box.
Robinson did ignite the chance of salvaging a point with a well-taken goal three minutes from time but the hosts held out to claim victory.
Although PNE’s four-match winning run came to an end, manager Simon Grayson wasn’t “too critical” of his players after the match.
He did acknowledge that fatigue may have been a contributing factor in their defeat, after naming the same starting line-up for the fourth successive match.
“We went with the same team that had played the last three games and I just thought that we looked a bit off the pace with and without the ball in the first half” he told PNE PlayerHD.
Cardiff City: Marshall, Peltier, Connolly, Manga, Malone, Lawrence (Ameobi, 92), O’Keefe, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Pilkington (Dikgacoi, 81) and Immers (Zohore, 93). Subs not used: Moore, Oshilaja, Macheda and Saadi.
PNE: Lindegaard, Woods, Clarke, Huntington (Robinson, 45), Wright, Cunningham, Browne, Gallagher (Pearson, 84), Johnson (Hugill, 63), Reach and Garner. Subs not used: Hudson, Vermijl, Welsh and Kilkenny.
Referee: Brendan Malone (Wiltshire)