Match report: PNE 0 Ipswich 1
Preston North End produced arguably their poorest performance of the season as they went down to defeat against Ipswich Town at Deepdale.
The Suffolk club became the first team to do the double over North End this season and there could be few complaints about the result.
Mustapha Carayol settled it with a 22nd minute goal but the margin of victory could have been greater with the visitors carving the home defence open at will in the first half.
The performance prompted Alex Neil to make a double substitution as early as the 38th minute, Callum Robinson and the struggling Calum Woods replaced by Josh Earl and Josh Harrop.
As the game went on, North End could not find any pattern to their play and looked ragged in possession.
A succession of formation changes and positional swaps failed to do the trick, the game ending with centre-half Paul Huntington playing up front.
This was a first league defeat for PNE since New Year's Day and only the second in 18 Championship games.
It will be seen as a missed opportunity in terms of squeezing up on the top six, the disappointment being that this result came on the back of two very good performances against Wolves and Aston Villa.
Neil had made just the one change from Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at Villa, Woods taking over from the suspended Darnell Fisher at right-back.
Preston were all over the place defensively in the first half and could have not have any complaints about going in at half-time 1-0 behind - if anything they were fortunate not to be trailing by more.
A sign of what was to come in the first period came in the eighth minute when Carayol broke away down the right channel, latching on to a pass from Martyn Waghorn.
He cut into the box and hit a low shot which Declan Rudd blocked, Carayol toe-poking the rebound wide,.
PNE shouted for a penalty when Robinson seemed to be pulled back by Cameron Carter-Vickers as he moved to meet Ben Pearson's low ball into the six-yard box.
Alan Browne headed over the bar when meeting Billy Bodin's inswinging cross from the right, Bodin having played a short corner to Robinson.
Ipswich took the lead in the 22nd minute, Cole Skuse hooking the ball forward down the visitors' left side.
Woods hesitated as he went to try and cut it out, Carayol nodding it past him and running into the box before sliding a low shot past the exposed Rudd.
It needed a good tackle from Greg Cunningham to deny Waghorn in the six-yard box after Carayol had again got the better of Woods and pulled the ball low into the middle.
The woodwork rescued North End in the 35th minute, Waghorn getting behind the home defence on the left and sending over a cross which Cunningham got enough on to take away from ex-Preston striker Joe Garner.
It ran into the path of Dominic Iorfa whose angled shot came back off the bar.
Neil had seen enough, making a double substitution in the 38th minute with Earl and Harrop replacing Woods and Robinson.
He switched from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1, Cunningham switching to right-back to take over from Woods with Earl slotting in at left-back.
Just before the interval, Harrop put a free-kick into the wall after Tom Barkhuizen had been brought down in full flow by Skuse five yards outside the box.
Ipswich lost dangerman Carayol at half-time, with Luke Hyam coming in.
In the 55th minute, a smart passing move gave Cunningham a sight of goal, the skipper hitting a shot from 20 yards which went straight at the keeper.
Around the hour mark, Cunningham moved back over to his natural left-back slot with Earl assuming right-back duties.
Daryl Horgan was introduced as Preston's third substitute of the afternoon, Bodin giving way to him in the 67th minute.
Earl tried his luck with a shot from 25 yards after cutting inside from the right, his shot saved at the foot of the post by Bartosz Bialkowski.
In the 77th minute, Horgan's cross from the left found Barkhuizen in the box, his header saved by Bialkowski diving to his left.
Centre-half Huntington was thrown up front in the closing stages but in truth, North End created nothing of note to remotely trouble the scorers.
PNE: Rudd, Woods (Earl 38), Huntington, Davies, Cunningham, Bodin (Horgan 67), Pearson, Browne, Barkhuizen, Robinson (Harrop 38), Moult. Subs (not used): Gallagher, Spurr, Welsh, Maxwell.
Ipswich: Bialkowski, Carter-Vickers, Chambers, Webster, Iorfa, Skuse, Connolly, Carayol (Hyam 46), Knusden, Waghorn (Spence 90), Garner. (Sears 69) Subs (not used): Celina, Ward, Gleeson, Crowe.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland)
Attendance: 11,511 (474 away)