Match Report: PNE 2-1 Birmingham City

By Chris Coughlin - Reporter

Preston North End maintained their push for a playoff place with a hard-fought 2-1 win against mid-table Birmingham City.

Jordan Hugill scored the winner late on, poking home Daryl Horgan’s cross-shot.

Callum Robinson had headed Preston in front early on before Che Adams equalised minutes into the second half.

The result was also a fitting tribute to Lilywhites legend Sir Tom Finney who sadly passed away three years ago to the day.

Preston created the game’s first chance inside six minutes. Ben Pearson stole possession from the Birmingham defence and cut the ball back to Jordan Hugill but his first-time shot was straight at Birmingham goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak who palmed the ball away.

The Lilywhites broke the deadlock on eight minutes. Aiden McGeady, who scored two in the victory against Brentford, turned provider as he crossed for Robinson to head into the corner and give the hosts a deserved lead.

Chances kept coming for Preston with McGeady the tormentor-in-chief. Once again, he crossed from the left to the incoming Hugill at the far post but Preston’s top scorer poked the ball over the bar from close range.

McGeady’s fellow Irishman Horgan was the next to go close to adding a second goal. His curling left-foot shot looked destined for the bottom corner only for Kuszczak to tip the ball round the post.

It took 33 minutes for the visitors to create their first opportunity. Former Fulham winger Kerim Frei exchanged passes with Lukas Jutkiewicz but his effort floated harmlessly past the post.

Preston were made to pay for a host of missed chances just two minutes into the second half.

Adams equalised for Birmingham as he drove the ball left-footed into the bottom corner from 20 yards which was the visitors first shot on target.

The game then became a scrappy affair with three bookings in less than ten minutes. Both goal scorers Robinson and Adams were carded with Birmingham’s Craig Gardner also going into the referee’s notebook.

Both teams struggled to create chances in a tight second period and Preston had to wait until 67 minutes for their next meaningful effort. McGeady shifted the ball onto his right foot before whipping a shot just over the bar.

Birmingham were also being restricted to long range efforts. Maikel Kieftenbeld was presented the ball 25 yards out after a poor pass by Pearson but his wasteful effort flew over the bar.

With just over ten minutes to go, Preston regained the lead. Horgan drove into the box and his cross-shot was tapped in by Hugill at the far post who atoned for his earlier misses.

Less than a minute later, Birmingham were down to ten men. Gardner dived in late on Cunningham and was given a second yellow card.

The visitors pushed for an equaliser in stoppage time but Preston held on to record their second home win in four days and keep their playoff dreams alive.

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