It was a Boxing Day to forget for Preston North End as they slumped to a 4-1 home defeat to Leeds United at Deepdale on Monday, with Jermaine Beckford sent off for the hosts.
The striker received his marching orders after reacting to an aerial challenge from Kyle Barley. He was three minutes into his return from another suspension, which came for fighting with team-mate Eoin Doyle in a defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.
Kemar Roofe opened the scoring with a close range header, before teeing up Hadi Sacko for 2-0. Marnick Vermijl’s reply for Preston was swiftly followed by Souleymane Doukara’s solo effort that put the high-flying Yorkshireman in firm control at the break.
Substitute Pablo Hernandez slotted in a fourth goal to complete the rout with three minutes left, as Preston drop down to 13th – while Leeds are fifth in the EFL Championship.
In the opening exchanges of the encounter, both sides looked to gain the initiative, in what was a tightly-fought start.
When it did come, the inaugural chance of the contest was engineered when Leeds’ Doukara embarked on a mazy run from the right into a central position, only to trickle a tame effort wide.
Garry Monk’s side took the lead after 17 minutes courtesy of Roofe, who glanced a header in from close range having connected from Pontus Jansson’s flick-on following Stuart Dallas’ right-sided free-kick, which was initially won by the goalscorer.
It was soon two for the Elland Road outfit with 24 on the clock, Roofe, this time involved with the assist, threading through Sacko, who clear on goal, dinked the ball of over the advancing Chris Maxwell.
Preston, out of nothing, found a route back into the game three minutes later. Full-back Vermijl profited from build-up play from Alan Browne and Simon Makienok to drill home past Robert Green to briefly silence the army of travelling support.
However, just past the half-hour mark, Leeds restored their two goal advantage. Doukara drifted in from the left inside the area, teasing Alex Baptiste, to rifle a shot that Maxwell couldn’t grasp.
Daniel Johnson’s attempts to reduce the deficit were to no avail, he won possession from Roofe, prior to blasting a wayward drive into the away end.
As the second half commenced in Lancashire, North End started strong in their quest to get back into the tie, but despite threatening Leeds’ backline, nothing ultimately came to fruition.
Veteran shot-stopper, Green, proved Leeds saviour later on, clawing away Browne’s scrambled attempt from the goal-line, after the Irishman had instinctively connected to Makienok’s knock-down.
Substitute Beckford received a red card just minutes after returning from a suspension to compile North End’s misery, after clashing with Bartley.
In the dying embers of the festive clash, United pushed for a third against the depleted Lilywhites. The energetic Roofe skipped beyond Clarke to angle a drive from the right-side of the area, which just fizzed over Maxwell’s crossbar.
Leeds netted a fourth with three minutes from time to cap off an emphatic display to confidently dispatch under Maxwell from close-range.