Preston sunk further into the abyss after they were edged out in the War of the Roses clash with Leeds United.Advertisement
Goals from Neil Kilkenny and Billy Paynter were enough to give the Yorkshire side the victory despite a fantastic strike from North End’s Iain Hume.
The defeat leaves the Lilywhites a massive 13 points from safety with just 11 games left in the season.
Preston went into the game still searching for a first win this year and first since Phil Brown took charge.
The Lancashire club sent out an attacking line up with Eddie Johnson, Iain Hume and Chris Brown all starting.
Leeds rested in-form striker Luciano Becchio and gave Billy Paynter a rare chance to lead the attack.
The Championship’s bottom club started brightly and nearly took the lead early on, as the ball sat up nicely for Keith Treacy, but his shot struck the bar.
Iain Hume then shot over the bar after good work in the air by Eddie Johnson.
Preston seemed the more likely of the two teams to find the opening goal but they could not find a way through as Leeds came back into the game.
The game turned scrappy as both teams failed to establish a foothold in the game. Treacy came close to the breakthrough, forcing keeper Kasper Schmeichel into a decent save before a Leeds cross from Max Gradel nearly caught North End’s Andy Lonergan out.
It was the Yorkshire club that struck the first blow as good work from Robert Snodgrass down the right produced a cross that was cleared only as far as Neil Kilkenny.
The Australian’s powerful shot struck the inside of the post and into the back of the net.
It was hardly a deserved lead for the top six side in such a close game but the away side began to control the game as half time approached.
Preston started the second half well and pressed for an equaliser with Treacy again forcing Schmeichel into a good save.
The Lilywhites thought they had drawn level but the goal was ruled offside by assistant referee SianMassey, who is most famous for being the subject of comments by former Sky Sports presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys.
Leeds doubled their lead just before the hour as Billy Paynter expertly fired a shot into the corner of the net to grab his first goal for the club.
Two goals down and staring at another defeat Preston looked in trouble so Phil Brown threw on Nathan Ellington to replace Chris Brown to try find a way back into the game.
A brilliant strike from Ian Hume outside the area gave North End fans hope they could salvage something.
The away side nearly extended their lead when a mix up at the back allowed painter to sneak in but his effort struck the post.
Preston began to build up pressure as the game entered its later stages but some resolute defending from Leeds kept the Lilywhites at bay.
Four minutes of injury time encouraged the home side to press on in search of a point as the pressure increased but they were unable to find a way through.
The defeat was made much worse as relegation rivals Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Middlesbrough all claimed victories.
Those wins combined with the defeat leaves North End thirteen points from safety and in a desperate situation.
If Preston have any chance of staying up they need to start with victory against fellow strugglers Scunthorpe United on March 15.