Cardiff City score two injury time goals to crush 10-man Preston North End at Deepdale

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Ike Ugbo scored the 99th minute winner at Deepdale

From the ecstasy of Ewood Park to devastating Deepdale despair, Preston North End had a fortnight to wait for Cardiff City's visit to Lancashire and were reminded that the game definitely isn't always beautiful. Now and again, games like Saturday's will come along and the cruelness never gets easier to take one bit.

The first 45 minutes were hard fought but ultimately forgettable on a bright, brisk November afternoon. PNE were looking to pick up where they left off, while Erol Bulut's men - sitting a few places and points below in the table - were aiming to get back on track after defeat at Norwich. The opening exchanges were spent feeling each other out and eventually North End started to do the basics better, which lifted encouragement among the home faithful. Seasoned duo, Robbie Brady and Ched Evans, had replaced Liam Millar and Will Keane in the starting XI - the latter not long back from Canada duty.

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On home soil, Preston needed to move the ball quickly and with quality; the effort to do that was there. Kian Best broke lines well, Ben Whiteman patrolled central areas and Liam Lindsay led by example in the heart of defence. North End tried going around, over and through, but ultimately lacked the creative spark required. PNE had to call on Freddie Woodman early in the first half and he delivered, with a strong reflex save to keep out Perry Ng's point blank range hit. At the other end, Runar Alex Runarsson had been largely untested on his second league start for Cardiff.

Liam Lindsay sent a header into his gloves, from a Brady corner, just before Bobby Madley's half-time whistle. And indeed, it was the man in the middle who stole a lot of the first half limelight. Cardiff, as a team, were at boiling point on the back of perceived, unjust decisions. The expected flashpoint arrived after half-an-hour. Jamilu Collins, Evans and Brady went into the book at the end of it all, with the visitors' left back seemingly escaping a red card for a suspected headbutt.

North End headed in at half time still waiting for their first moment in the final third; they didn't have to wait too long for it to come along. Preston have been pretty ruthless as a team this season - taking chances when they present themselves and outperforming various attacking metrics. On 48 minutes, Milutin Osmajic picked the pocket of Mark McGuinness, drove at goal all alone and steered the ball past Rúnarsson - who never really looked like keeping him out. A fourth goal in Preston colours for the Montenegrin; all of them have come in front of the Alan Kelly Town End.

A goal to warm everybody up, the game looked right there for North End to go and take away from Cardiff. Football matches can change very quickly though and just four minutes after Osmajic's opener, the picture of this clash completely flipped. Brady, on a yellow for dissent, found himself retreating after a poor cross into the box. His marching orders followed, for an avoidable and costly foul on Yakou Méïté in Preston's own half.

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Lowe wasted little time in introducing Ryan Ledson and the returning Andrew Hughes, with Ched Evans and Kian Best the duo to make way. A sizable, 30 plus minute challenge was in store but North End have a team who live for digging deep. They were going to have to do that here and stay switched on until the very last second. As the 70th minute approached, Karlan Grant drilled inches wide from 18 yards. That aside, Cardiff struggled to make their territory count and Preston had a couple of opportunities to counter and kill the contest.

Lowe's men had nine minutes of added time to come through as a unit and - as PNE's boss had requested - the Deepdale crowd raised the decibels. North End could feel the points in their grasp but - not for the first time this season - a 96th minute hammer-blow was dealt, as Grant rifled home among a crowd of bodies to crush Preston hearts. If a point was a bitter pill to swallow, what followed was about as excruciating as it can likely get. Cardiff were suddenly back attacking again and sensed the opportunity to finish the hurting Lilywhites off. If Grant landed the heavy blow, Ike Ugbo knocked North End flat to the canvas with a 99th minute header. Preston, just minutes away from a miraculous victory, left empty handed and utterly speechless.

PNE XI: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay, Best (Hughes 58'), Potts, Whiteman, Browne, Holmes, Brady, Evans (Ledson 58'), Osmajic (Millar 85') PNE unused subs: Cornell, Ramsay, Whatmough, Frokjaer, Stewart, Keane

Attendance: 14,593 (789 away)

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