Jordan Hugill nets as Preston heap more misery on Gianfranco Zola
Jordan Hugill's 10th goal of the season lifted Preston to a 2-1 victory over 10-man Birmingham and piled more misery on Blues manager Gianfranco Zola.
Callum Robinson opened the scoring for the home side in the eighth minute, but moments after half-time Birmingham were level through Che Adams.
However, with 12 minutes to go Hugill nabbed what proved to be the winner to leave Birmingham - who saw Craig Gardner sent off for a second yellow card shortly after the home side's second goal - having won just once in 13 games under Zola.
With the visitors missing several key first-team players it looked as if it was going to be a long night when Robinson opened the scoring after only eight minutes.
Robinson - who came through the youth ranks at Aston Villa - got on the end of Aiden McGeady's cross to head home and give his side the lead.
McGeady had now been involved in six of Preston's last seven goals and looked a threat all night, causing full-back Emilio Nsue a whole host of problems in the first half.
Midway through the half his dangerous cross found Hugill at the back post but he could only turn the ball over.
Just before half-time McGeady was at it again as he slipped in over-lapping full-back Greg Cunningham down the left flank, but his powerful effort was tipped over by Tomasz Kuszczak.
Birmingham got back on level terms with their opening shot of the second half and their first on target of the night, Lukas Jutkiewicz heading the ball down into the path of strike partner Adams and he lashed the ball into the far corner on the half-volley.
But that was as good as it got for the Blues as 12 minutes from time Preston winger Daryl Horgan ran into the box off the right wing, played the ball across goal to Hugill who tapped home from close range.
It went from bad to worse for the visitors when Gardner was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Cunningham literally seconds after Preston had retaken the lead.
The hosts could have made it more convincing but Horgan squandered a great chance minutes from time following good work from substitute Tom Barkhuizen.
Source : PA