Preston North End 2–1 Birmingham City F.C.
Preston North End gave their beloved fans a Valentine Day cheer at the expense of Birmingham City, who had their captain Craig Gardner sent off in the final 10 minutes of the game.
The Blues, who have not beaten Preston since 2006, started slow and it took eight minutes for the first goal after Aiden Mcgeady’s cross was met by the head of Callum Robinson.
Birmingham striker Che Adams equalized for the Blues at the start of the second half with a sweetly struck half-volley from the outside of the area.
But it was Preston’s Jordan Hugill that latched on to a scuffed shot from winger Daryl Hogan that gave The Lilywhites the lead, minutes before Blues captain Craig Gardner was sent off for a second yellow card.
The victory gives Preston a play-off possibility with a 3-match unbeaten run putting them just seven points away, while Birmingham slipped to 14th after suffering their sixth loss in 10 games.
Mcgeady gave Zola’s men the run-around in the first half. His trickery on the ball and assist for Robinson showing his influence in the first half hour.
The end of the first half and start of the second was the best spell for Birmingham and their persistence paid off. Che Adams was positioned perfectly for Lukas Jutkiewicz’s headed assist which he caught on the half-volley into the bottom right hand corner from outside the area.
The game seemed like a stalemate until Hogan’s scuffed shot was converted by Hugill. Gifting Preston the win and the forward his tenth goal of the season.
The game was seen off by Preston as Birmingham’s stand-in captain, Craig Gardner, was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence with eight minutes to play.
Preston North End Boss Simon Grayson:
“We created some good chances and had some outstanding individual performances. We just needed a couple of extra goals to warrant the performance in the first half.
“Ultimately, we’ve shown a lot of character to stay in the game, in the second-half we had to dig in and took our chances when they came along.
“Saturday is a good opportunity against Wigan, they’ve had a good result against Wolves and we know we’re in for a tough game.”
Winning Goal-scorer Jordan Hugill:
“I knew I’d get another chance with Daryl Hogan out wide, putting good crosses in all game and I took the chance.
“I know I can let them do their business and in the box, I’ll do mine. I scuffed a few chances but I never let it get to me and in the end I got the winner.”
Birmingham City boss Gianfranco Zola:
“I don’t want to talk about luck anymore, I’m fed up of using that. The reason we keep losing games like this is not because we are unlucky, at the moment we are very poor, simple as that.
“I’m the first person responsible, we can do much better than this. We had total control in the second half. We were just waiting to score.”