PNE 2 Birmingham 1

Callum Robinson  on the attack for PNE
Callum Robinson on the attack for PNE
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Preston North End recorded back-to-back Deepdale wins with victory over Birmingham City on Tuesday night.

The 2-1 win over the Blues followed Saturday's emphatic 4-2 success over Brentford.

North End were well worthy of all three points, especially after dominating the opening period.

Unfortunately, they only had Callum Robinson's eighth minute strike to show for their efforts despite creating a whole host of chances.

They were then dealt a huge suckerpunch two minutes after the break when Che Adams fired the visitors undeservedly level.

For a time, North End's performance turned ragged but they recovered to win the goal thanks to Jordan Hugill's 78th minute strike.

North End started the game on the front foot and should have opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Ben Pearson won the ball deep in Birmingham territory. He raced into the penalty area down the inside right channel before squaring for Hugill.

With the goal at his mercy, the big centre forward shot straight at the goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, who got his body in the way of the effort.

The home side did not have to rue that missed opportunity for long, however, as they took the lead just two minutes later.

It was apt too that with seven minutes and 15 seconds on the clock and Deepdale rising to its feet to mark the third anniversary of Sir Tom Finney's death that North End opened the scoring.

Aiden McGeady's low left wing centre was met at the near post by a glancing header from Callum Robinson.

The home side continued to flow forward and a long searching ball forward by Horgan was latched on to by Hugill down the right in the 11th minute. His centre cannoned off Robinson and fell invitingly into the path of McGeady, who was lurking just outside the box.

Unfortunately, the Republic of Ireland international ballooned his shot high and wide.

Two minutes later Robinson flashed an in-swinging cross from the left which was just too high for Hugill.

In the 18th minute, Hugill should really have made it 2-0 for the dominant home side.

Once again, McGeady produced some wing wizardry down the left before lifting the ball into the danger area.

Hugill charged in at the back post to get ahead of his man but stabbed his first-time shot over the bar.

North End continued to hold the upper hand with McGeady in particular giving Blues full-back Emilio Nsue a torrid time with his fast feet and step overs.

However, it was PNE's other Irish winger Daryl Horgan who had their next attempt on goal just before the half-hour mark.

It seemed for all the world that the diminutive Irishman's shot from the edge of the area was curling into the bottom corner, but ex-Manchester United keeper Kuszczak managed to dive full length to tip the ball around the post.

The visitors were showing very little attacking intent as their front two Lukas Jutkiewicz and Che Adams received little change out of the central defensive partnership of Tom Clarke and Paul Huntington.

Overlapping left back Greg Cunningham then got in the act when his drilled shot was tipped over by Kuszsak after the ball was initially weighted perfectly into his path by McGeady.

The half ended with an altercation between Pearson and Frei, which ended with them both being handed a caution - the 12th of the season for the PNE man.

Simon Grayson must have walked back to the dressing room a happy man after watching his dominate proceedings.

However, there must have been a slight concern in the back of his mind that his team had not made their superiority count by adding to their slender one-goal advantage.

And his worst fears were realised just a couple of minutes into the second half when Birmingham drew level.

Che Adams latched onto a boucing ball on theedge of the area and volleyed the ball into the bottom corner past the despairing dive of Chris Maxwell.

It was a real sickener for North End after such a dominant opening period.

The match then turned fairly scrappy as PNE's performance became more and more ragged.

Birmingham began to enjoy more possession and cause a few anxious moment in the home defence.

Maxwell had to get down well in the 77th minute to save Gardner's fiercely struck free-kick after Clarke had tripped Adams.

With Jermaine Beckford stripped on the sidelines and ready to come on, North End found what proved to be the winner.

Horgan's inviting cross from the right was turned home at the back post by Hugill.

It was certainly a moment of redemption for the big striker, who had missed several opportunities in the first half.

The visitors' task was made even harder a minute later when the already booked Gardner was shown the red card for a late challenge on Cunningham.

There was time for Hugill to see another goalbound effort blocked after being set-up by substitute Tom Barhuizen in the 86th minute.

Three minutes later, Horgan then displayed a lack of composure inside the penalty area as he fired over after Daniel Johnson's pull-back.

In the end, the final scoreline certainly flattered the visitors as North End moved to 10th in the Championship table.

PNE: Maxwell, Browning, Clarke (capt), Huntington, Cunningham, Horgan, Pearson, Browne, McGeady (Johnson85), Robinson (Barkhuizen (62), Hugill (Makienok 93). Subs: Lindegaard, Boyle, Johnson, Barkhuizen, May, Beckford, Makienok.

Birmingham: Kuszczak, Nsue, Grounds, Kieftenbeld, Gleeson, Gardner, Adams, Jutkiewicz, Frei, Bielik, Keita. Subs: Legzdins, Robinson, Tesche, Stewart (Keita 83), Dacres-Cogley (Frei 46), O'Keefe, Sinclair (Gleeson 89)

Attendance: 10,233 (614)

Referee: Mr T. Robinson