Preston North End extended their unbeaten run to six games with a win at Deepdale over Cardiff City, courtesy of goals from Tom Cannon and substitute Ched Evans.
Neither side were able to break the deadlock in the first half, despite a lengthy period of added time, but Bambo Diaby had PNE’s best chance while restricting Cardiff of any major attacking threat.
North End then entered the second period as the team on top, as Cannon in the 68th minute scored in front of the Town End and Evans then converted in the fourth minute of added time, securing three points against the Bluebirds.
PNE made two changes to the side which took a point against Watford last Saturday, with Ben Woodburn and Cannon back into the starting XI, while skipper Alan Browne missed the game to be with his partner for the birth of their child.
The visitors created the first opportunity of the afternoon, as Jaden Philogene down the middle dinked a pass into the path of Kion Etete five minutes in, which required Freddie Woodman to rush out of his goal and injure himself in the process.
After a lengthy spell receiving treatment, the North End ‘keeper was okay to continue and Troy Parrott carved out a chance after 26 minutes – taking the ball from Daniel Johnson inside the area, wriggling free of a defender and firing powerfully into the hands of Jak Alnwick.
Cardiff attempted to bring some goal threat of their own, however, as Etete – outside the box – let off a thumping effort which flew wide of the left post on the 39-minute mark.
North End almost took advantage of the seven extra minutes, with Diaby coming closest to opening the scoring, by using his strength inside the danger zone and he poked a shot just wide to the left, which marked the end of the opening stage.
Determined to find the back of the net after the chances of the first half, Álvaro Fernández picked out Cannon in the 50th minute who, after patiently waiting, unleashed his shot into the hands of Alnwick.
At the other end, just seven minutes later, Woodman was called into action – Perry Ng with a free-kick from a dangerous area outside the box, requiring a diving save to his right.
He would repeat a similar feat after a further six minutes, when Sory Kaba let off an effort which seemed destined for the top-right corner, before the eventual man of the match tipped it away from danger.
As the 68th minute approached, Cannon gave PNE the opener they were aiming for, by chesting down an aerial pass from Greg Cunningham on the left flank and slotting into the middle of goal from 12 yards.
The half was certainly the more eventful of the two and Brad Potts missed out on a chance to extend PNE’s lead four minutes later, after connecting his foot on the ball at the far post, from a curled free-kick which was taken from distance.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors, as Alnwick sprinted out of his net and collided with a threatening Cannon outside the area, which resulted in a straight red card.
From the following free-kick, Ben Whiteman released a long-range effort and substitute ‘keeper Rohan Luthra could only parry his strike towards the feet of substitute Evans, who slotted home to confirm a 2-0 victory for his side in the fourth extra minute of the 90.
PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey, Diaby, Cunningham; Potts, Whiteman, Woodburn (Brady, 60), Johnson (Ledson, 82), Fernández (Onomah, 82); Parrott (Evans, 60) Cannon. Subs not used: Cornell, Bauer, Delap.
Cardiff City line-up: Alnwick; Ng, Kipré, McGuinness; Philogene, Wintle, Rinomhota (Harris, 72 (Luthra, 90+3)), Sawyers, O’Dowda; Etete, Kaba (Ojo, 64). Subs not used: Romeo, Sang, Colwill, Davies.
Attendance: 14,295 (648 Cardiff City fans).
Referee: Mr D Webb.