Daniel Johnson’s first-half penalty was enough for Preston North End to beat Bristol City and hand the Robins their third straight Championship loss.
Johnson placed his spot kick down the middle after top scorer Scott Sinclair was brought down by the dangling leg of Robins defender Taylor Moore.
Former Celtic and Swansea forward Sinclair also saw a low shot deflected wide and volley well saved by Daniel Bentley as Preston deserved their lead at the break.
Dean Holden’s visitors were a different side after the half-time introduction of Antoine Semenyo who, along with midfielder Callum O’Dowda, forced several excellent stops from Declan Rudd as Preston held out for victory.
Bristol City stay ninth, two points from the play-offs, after failing to score for the fourth time in five games, while Preston are now four points behind them in 13th.
Referee Geoff Eltringham paused to award the decisive penalty as he appeared to wait and see if there would be an advantage for Preston, who went on to hit the bar through Tom Barkhuizen before he brought play back.
Robins defender Moore got a touch on the ball in the challenge but also caught Sinclair, with Johnson sending Bentley the wrong way from the spot after a stuttering run-up.
City were particularly dangerous down their right as they chased an equaliser in the second half, Jack Hunt twice crossing for Semenyo to go close before O’Dowda saw a header tipped over by the impressive Rudd.
Preston were perhaps fortunate not to down go to 10 men when Darnell Fisher escaped a second yellow card after 66 minutes for a late challenge on livewire Semenyo, with the full-back taken off minutes later.
But Alex Neil’s side, who have conceded a Championship-high 30 goals this season, have now kept back-to-back clean sheets at Deepdale for the first time since December 2017 and not lost any of their past 15 league meetings with the Robins.
The Lilywhites could have made the closing stages more comfortable but substitute Emil Riis Jakobsen saw a low effort saved by Bentley.
Preston manager Alex Neil:
“I thought we deserved it. First half we played some good stuff, we were better than them.
“I thought the two best chances of the second half still fell to us, Declan has had a couple of saves to make but they weren’t as clear cut chances as ours.
“We did everything required to win games at this level, we passed the ball and created chances and then dug in and defended well when we needed to do, we did all those things well.”
Bristol City manager Dean Holden:
“I’m hugely disappointed I thought we deserved something from the game.
“First half there was not a lot in it, we got on the wrong end of a penalty decision, we were a little bit passive in that phase of play which led to the penalty.
“Second half we took it to Preston, we had all the play, we’ve created chances and we’ve just not been able to take one of them.”
- 2FisherBooked at 51minsSubstituted forRaffertyat 69′minutes
- 12GallagherSubstituted forBaylissat 76′minutes
- 11JohnsonSubstituted forStockleyat 80′minutes
- 24MaguireSubstituted forRiis Jakobsenat 69′minutes
- 19Riis Jakobsen
- 23MooreSubstituted forSemenyoat 45′minutes
- 42MassengoSubstituted forBakinsonat 45′minutes
Match ends, Preston North End 1, Bristol City 0.
Second Half ends, Preston North End 1, Bristol City 0.
Corner, Bristol City. Conceded by Tom Bayliss.
Corner, Bristol City. Conceded by Alan Browne.
Attempt blocked. Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Tommy Rowe.
Foul by Jayden Stockley (Preston North End).
Tomas Kalas (Bristol City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Bristol City. Conceded by Joseph Rafferty.
Attempt blocked. Chris Martin (Bristol City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tyreeq Bakinson.
Attempt missed. Joshua Earl (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Joseph Rafferty with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Daniel Bentley.
Attempt saved. Emil Riis Jakobsen (Preston North End) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Scott Sinclair.
Attempt missed. Jayden Stockley (Preston North End) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Tom Barkhuizen.
Attempt missed. Emil Riis Jakobsen (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Tom Barkhuizen.
Corner, Bristol City. Conceded by Declan Rudd.
Attempt saved. Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Jack Hunt with a cross.
Attempt missed. Tom Bayliss (Preston North End) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Emil Riis Jakobsen following a fast break.
Attempt missed. Alan Browne (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Tommy Rowe.
Joshua Earl (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the left wing.