Match report: PNE 3 Cardiff City 0

PNE v Cardiff City
PNE v Cardiff City
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Preston North End turned in an excellent performance to beat Cardiff City, this their first Championship victory at Deepdale since February.

Goals from Tom Clarke, Callum Robinson and Jordan Hugill delivered a vital win which lifted them out of the bottom three.

On a night when thunder and lightning provided the backdrop, skipper Clarke put North End ahead with a fine finish in the 36th minute - his first goal since November 2014.

The impressive Robinson doubled the advantage five minutes later, showing a great turn of pace to power down the left and drive a shot into the net.

Hugill's 87th minute strike was the best of the evening, the recalled front man cutting inside from the left-wing before curling a delightful finish past Cardiff goalkeeper Ben Wilson.

PNE manager Simon Grayson had gone for an attacking 4-4-2 formation, with Aiden McGeady and Robinson providing the width from the wings.

Hugill returned to the line-up to partner Eoin Doyle up front, his inclusion one of the two changes from Saturday's defeat to Barnsley, with Alan Browne coming into midfield.

Aside from the opening exchanges, North End pretty much had control of the first half.

The storm which raged across the region resulted in cheers from the crowd every time there was a flash of lightning or clap of thunder.

Cardiff had the game's first chance in the fifth minute, Anthony Pilkington getting into the box to the right of goal, his powerful drive tipped over the bar by North End goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.

Greg Cunningham needed treatment on the pitch and then off it, to stem a nosebleed, PNE content to slow the tempo of the action while they played with 10 men.

Paul Gallagher and Doyle - playing against his former club - saw shots blocked in the box in quick succession as they got their first proper sight on goal with 13 minutes played.

When Robinson was fouled just outside the 'D', Gallagher kept the resulting free-kick low and keeper Ben Wilson into a diving save to push it behind by the post.

A woeful back pass from Cardiff's left wing-back Declan John allowed Doyle to burst forward down the right, his pass inside finding Robinson who took a touch too many before dragging a shot wide.

Browne's low 20-yard was misjudged by Wilson on the wet turf, the keeper only holding it at the second attempt as Doyle slid in looking for the loose ball.

Wilson was booked in the 26th minute after dashing out of his box and bringing down Doyle as they chased Marnick Vermijl's ball down the right channel.

North End struck twice in five minutes to take a grip on proceedings.

In the 36th minute, Vermijl lifted a high ball into the box which Wilson and Clarke jumped to try and win.

The Bluebirds gloveman dropped it, Clarke showing great presence of mind to swivel and hook the ball into the net from the right hand side of the box, the ball dropping into the net to the delight of the Preston faithful.

Vermijl drove a shot just too high before the second goal arrived in the 41st minute.

Robinson got possession just over the half-way line, motored down the left channel and as the visiting defence backed off, he came inside and drilled a low finish across Wilson into the far bottom corner.

Two minutes into the second half, Robinson won a free-kick 25 yards out, Gallagher lifting the set-piece over the bar and against the top of the bar.

Cardiff looked much improved after the break, aided by a double half-time substitution.

One of the substitutes, Craig Noone, forced Lindegaard into a diving save in the 56th minute after meeting a knockdown from Rickie Lambert on the volley.

That led to a succession of corners for Cardiff, ones which North End stood firm to keep out, Lindegaard plucking a couple of them out of the air underneath the bar.

McGeady saw a low drive blocked by centre-half Sean Morrison with 70 minutes played, Cardiff going straight up the other end with Pilkington's shot pushed over the bar by Lindegaard.

The North End fans were on their feet when a Robinson shot from 25 yards hit the side-netting, the supporters thinking for a moment it had gone in.

Chris Humphrey replaced Doyle in the 77th minute, the change seeing McGeady move into the middle to play behind Hugill, with Humphrey operating down the right-wing.

McGeady got on the end of Hugill's headed flick on soon after the switch inside, his shot pushed behind by Wilson who got down well at the near post.

Victory was wrapped-up with a beauty of a goal from Hugill.

It started at the back, Alex Baptiste tidying up after a Cardiff attack broke down and feeding a pass out to Cunningham - he in turn threaded a fine pass down the left-wing which released Hugill.

The striker showed a turn of good turn of pace as he came inside off the line and curled a delightful right-foot shot over Wilson into the far corner of the net.

PNE: Lindegaard, Vermijl, Clarke, Baptiste, Cunningham, McGeady, Browne, Gallagher, Robinson (Makienok 86), Doyle (Humphrey 77), Hugill (Johnson 90). Subs (not used): Wright, Welsh, Pringle, Maxwell.

Cardiff: Wilson, Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Harris, Ralls (Gounongbe 69), Gunnarsson, Huws (Noone 46), John (Whittingham 46), Lambert, Pilkington. Subs (not used): Richards, Immers, Connolly, Amos.

Referee: Steve Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 9,216 (215 away)