A solitary first half goal from Sean Maguire gave North End their first away league win of the season against Pep Cotet’s Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.
The winner came mid-way through the first half as Maguire found the net from a narrow angle after Gallagher’s 25-yard free kick had been tipped onto the post by Lee Camp.
Alex Neil had made four changes, with Hughes back from injury, in the side along with Josh Harrop, the aforementioned Gallagher and Ben Pearson – back after illness.
It was a very tactical first half, but the Lilywhites had a strong early shout for a penalty as Maguire was pushed over in the penalty area by Harlee Dean, however, referee Steve Martin saw nothing wrong.
But the goal came on 23 minutes. Maguire was brought down by Dean and this time a free kick was awarded. It was just to the left of centre and Gallagher curled it low, under the wall, heading for the bottom right corner until Camp got a finger-tip touch to take it onto the post, but it ricocheted across the face of the goal and Maguire reacted first slamming home left-footed from a very tight angle.
With 25 minutes left the visitors almost worked a second as a throw in from Fisher found Johnson, who reversed a ball for Harrop to cut inside the box and he pulled the ball across for Tom Barkhuizen, but he couldn’t quite connect with a swept shot and Camp collected.
With 12 minutes to go a hugely controversial 30 seconds as firstly Maguire was fouled in the penalty area for a clear penalty that wasn’t awarded and then Birmingham broke and one substitute Jacques Maghoma crossed for another change Alvaro Gimemez to slam home from close range, only for assistant Mark Jones’ flag to go up.
But despite nearly ten minutes of added time the team took the win and moved into the top three, just a point behind leaders Leeds United.
Birmingham City line-up: Camp, Pedersen, Roberts, Colin, Crowley, Jutkiewicz, Dean (c), Mrabti (Gimenez, 61), Bellingham (Maghoma, 61), Davis (Villalba, 79), Sunjic. Subs not used: Stockdale, Harding, Clarke-Salter, Gardner.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher (Rafferty, 89), Hughes, Pearson, Bauer, Davies, Harrop, Gallagher (c) (Browne, 82), Barkhuizen (Potts, 83), Johnson, Maguire. Subs not used: Ripley, Storey, Ledson, Stockley.
Attendance: 20,806 (1,518 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr S Martin