Preston North End made it six Sky Bet Championship victories in a row as Milutin Osmajić’s first goal for the club contributed to a 2-1 win against Birmingham City.
After a cagey opening 45 minutes, Jay Stansfield opened the scoring for the visitors just 30 seconds after play restarted, but North End soon drew level through a Krystian Bielik own goal.
PNE’s record signing Osmajić then slammed home midway through the half to open his account for his new side and that was enough to keep Ryan Lowe’s men top of the table.
The manager made one change from the weekend’s victory over Plymouth Argyle, with Jack Whatmough coming into defence in place of Andrew Hughes.
After a quiet opening 15 minutes, the visitors had a good spell in the game where PNE were forced to deal with plenty of crosses into the box, and Whatmough was also needed to block Bielik’s shot in the six-yard box.
The Deepdale crowd roared their side into action and, on 24 minutes, Liam Millar picked the ball up and ran at the Birmingham defence, before his cross was headed on to the edge of the box where Ali McCann saw a low effort blocked.
A minute later came the best chance to score so far as skipper Alan Browne moved the ball on to Duane Holmes who slid a pass into the area for Brad Potts – fresh from signing a new contract – but his first-time strike went wide of goal.
Just before the half-hour mark, former Blackpool man Keshi Anderson wildly blazed over the bar from a promising position, while Freddie Woodman was shortly called into action by a 25-yard strike from Koji Miyoshi.
Two minutes prior to the break, blocks denied an acrobatic strike from Ryan Ledson and a 20-yard effort from Browne, and the visitors then quickly broke and North End were no doubt relieved to see the offside flag go up as Oliver Burke was slotted through.
There was nothing, though, to deny Stansfield just 30 seconds after the break, as Miyoshi played the striker through and, after a slip from Liam Lindsay, the forward finished well past Woodman.
However, PNE wouldn’t be behind for long. In the 51st minute, Browne whipped a brilliant corner in which Kevin Long and Bielik both looked to head clear, and the latter inadvertently sent it into the back of his own net.
At the other end, Woodman got down quickly to his right and showed a strong right hand to parry Ivan Šunjić’s low drive away from goal.
Deepdale then erupted with noise in the 67th minute when Osmajić scored his first for the club to put the Lilywhites in front. Browne did superbly well in midfield to slot it through the legs of Šunjić before setting up the Montenegrin forward to slam the ball through the legs of John Ruddy, and he celebrated with his teammates in front of the raucous Town End.
North End would have had three if it weren’t for Ruddy’s tip over the bar to deny a dipping long-range effort from Holmes, and PNE then had to navigate nine minutes of added-time – with a limping Millar up front – but the Lilywhites managed to hold on to secure an astonishing sixth successive victory.
PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey, Whatmough (Hughes, 51), Lindsay; Potts, Ledson (Whiteman, 68), McCann (Brady, 51), Millar; Holmes, Browne; Osmajić (Frøkjær, 77). Subs not used: Cornell, Cunningham, Stewart, Woodburn, Best.
Birmingham City line-up: Ruddy; Drameh, Sanderson, Long, Longelo; Šunjić (Bacuna, 71), Bielik (Gardner, 88); Burke (James, 88), Miyoshi, Anderson (Hogan, 82); Stansfield. Subs not used: Etheridge, Roberts, Khela, Dixon, Aiwu.
Attendance: 15,838 (1,909 Birmingham City fans).
Referee: Mr D Whitestone.