Match report: Derby 1 PNE 0
Preston North End slipped to the first Championship defeat of the season, beaten by Derby County at Pride Park.
The Rams won it with a penalty, Matej Vydra scoring from the spot in the 58th minute after Paul Huntington had been adjudged to have pushed Curtis Davies at a corner.
North End never really found their rhythm, the closest they came to scoring being an early free-kick from Callum Robinson which goalkeeper Scott Carson tipped over.
At the start of the second half, they had to withstand strong pressure from the hosts with Darnell Fisher making a terrific block from a David Nugent shot and Chris Maxwell saving well from Vydra.
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It was during that spell that Derby won their penalty, enough to give them the three points.
Alex Neil had sprung something of a surprise selection-wise when it came to finding a replacement for the suspended Ben Pearson.
He brought defender Ben Davies into the side and went for a 3-4-3 formation, Davies lining up in the back three to the left of Huntington and Tommy Spurr.
It was the 22-year-old's first appearance in the league for PNE since August 2014, the few he had in the meantime being in the League Cup.
Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson were the midfield pairing, with Tom Barkhuzien and Robinson playing wide of Jordan Hugill.
The first half was on the scrappy side, with neither side particularly stamping their mark on proceedings.
There were half-chances over the 45 minutes but nothing too clear-cut.
Andreas Weimann had the first chance inside the second minute after Maxwell shanked a kicked clearance into his path out on the left-wing.
Thankfully for Maxwell, the shot from Weimann drifted well wide of the target.
Robinson had a couple of sights of goal early on, a shot from outside the box which went too high and then a curling free-kick which goalkeeper Scott Carson helped over the bar.
Nugent got underneath a cross from Marcus Olsson and looped a header over the top, Weimann then firing wide from outside the box during a spell of pressure for the hosts.
The Rams' best chance of the first period came in the 20th minute when Weimann threaded a low pass through the North End back line to free Nugent on goal, his low shot well saved by Maxwell with his right foot.
North End got in some promising areas on the counter-attack but didn't use the ball as well as they wanted to, the wrong option picked too often with a cross or final pass.
Seven minutes before half-time, Bradley Johnson's powerful shot from 25 yards hit Davies, that taking the sting off it and allowing Maxwell to pounce on the ball with Matek Vydra closing in.
In the opening exchanges of the second half, Preston lived dangerously at the back and were indebted to Fisher and Maxwell for keeping the scoreline blank.
Nugent looked certain to score in the 48th minute when Weimann picked him out with a low cross in front of goal after getting clear down the right channel.
He had the goal at his mercy but Fisher appeared from nowhere to slide in and block the shot.
Less than two minutes later, Nugent's cross from the byline to the right of goal was met by the unmarked Vydra, his header clawed away by Maxwell after it had bounced into the turf and towards goal.
It then needed a sliding block from Cunningham to block Weimann's shot and take it over the bar and behind for the corner.
That corner led to Derby breaking the deadlock, referee Geoff Eltringham delaying the taking of it while he warned against some pushing and jostling in the box.
Tom Huddlestone delivered the flag kick from the left, the assistant referee flagging for a foul as Davies went to ground under a challenge from Huntington.
Mr Eltringham awarded a penalty, one which Vydra tucked away into the bottom corner despite Maxwell getting a glove on.
Straight after the goal, Neil made his first substitution of the evening, Gallagher replacing Robinson.
Just past the hour, Maxwell dived to his left to get enough on a powerful drive from Johnny Russell to take it past the post.
Daryl Horgan replaced Barkhuizen and then Sean Maguire joined the action in place of Spurr, Neil reverting to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
In the 80th minute, Maguire's pass fed Hugill on the edge of the box but his right-foot shot lacked power and Carson saved comfortably.
When Maguire was brought down five yards outside the penalty area, Gallagher curled the resulting free-kick round the wall but straight into Carson's gloves.
Worryingly, North End finished the game with 10 men after Cunningham landed awkwardly after going up for a header.
He tried to carry on after treatment but pulled up a second time after delivering a cross and hobbled off.
In stoppage-time, Browne saw a volley deflect off a Derby body and into the gloves of Carson.
Derby: Carson, Wisdom, Keogh, Davies, Olsson, Huddlestone, Johnson, Russell (Bennett 85), Vydra (Bryson 68), Weimann, Nugent (Martin 76). Subs (not used): Baird, Pearce, Butterfield, Mitchell.
PNE: Maxwell, Huntington, Spurr, (Maguire 70) Davies, Fisher, Browne, Johnson, Cunningham, Barkhuizen (Horgan 62), Robinson (Gallagher 59), Hugill. Subs (not used): Vermijl, Boyle, Harrop, Hudson.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham)
Attendance: 24,371 (939 PNE)