Match ends, Cardiff City 2, Preston North End 1.
Cardiff City turned up the pressure on their play-off rivals with a hard-fought victory over Preston North End.
The visitors saw their own promotion aspirations take a hit as Cardiff scored twice from the spot.
Anthony Pilkington gave the Bluebirds the lead with a cool penalty on the stroke of half time and he repeated the trick with ten minutes remaining.
Callum Robinson scored a consolation goal for Preston who slip to 10th, while Cardiff move up to seventh.
Cardiff were also able to reduce the gap on rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County and leapfrogged Birmingham City.
The hosts were worthy of their win and enjoyed the better chances in a first half that failed to produce fireworks.
Pilkington came closest for Cardiff, firing over from a free-kick shortly after he saw a point-blank range header sensationally saved by former Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard,
Preston failed to test reported Everton target David Marshall in the Cardiff goal in the first period and paid the price when Pilkington slotted home the penalty in first half stoppage time after Paul Huntington's infringement on him.
Pilkington was again denied by Lindegaard as he looked to double Cardiff's advantage shortly after the break, though Preston looked more of a threat when they switched their formation and began playing four at the back.
The visitors had come to south Wales in fabulous form, four successive victories their best streak of the campaign, but they never fully fired against Russell Slade's men.
There was more than an hour on the clock before they finally stretched the Cardiff defence, Adam Reach beating Marshall after a fine cross, but he was adjudged to be offside.
But when Greg Cunningham sent Wales forward Tom Lawrence sprawling, Pilkington was again Cardiff's man of the moment, smashing the ball past Lindegaard to put the result beyond doubt.
Robinson's consolation set-up a potential grandstand finish, firing home a right-footed shot from the centre of the box after Cunningham's superb cross.
However, Cardiff held firm for an important victory on a weekend where several of their rivals slipped up.
Cardiff are unbeaten in seven home games against Preston, winning four and drawing three.
The Bluebirds have lost only once at home in the Championship all season and are now only three points outside of the play-off positions.
- 2PeltierBooked at 69mins
- 5Ecuele Manga
- 37LawrenceSubstituted forAmeobiat 90+3'minutes
- 8RallsBooked at 75mins
- 13PilkingtonSubstituted forDikgacoiat 82'minutes
- 27ImmersSubstituted forZohoreat 90+4'minutes
- 23HuntingtonSubstituted forRobinsonat 45'minutes
- 3CunninghamBooked at 81mins
- 16BrowneBooked at 85mins
- 12GallagherSubstituted forPearsonat 84'minutes
- 11JohnsonSubstituted forHugillat 63'minutes
- Brendan Malone
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Cardiff City 2, Preston North End 1.
Substitution, Cardiff City. Kenneth Zohore replaces Lex Immers.
Substitution, Cardiff City. Sammy Ameobi replaces Tom Lawrence.
Attempt missed. Callum Robinson (Preston North End) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left from a direct free kick.
Greg Cunningham (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Lee Peltier (Cardiff City).
Goal! Cardiff City 2, Preston North End 1. Callum Robinson (Preston North End) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Greg Cunningham with a cross.
Offside, Cardiff City. Scott Malone tries a through ball, but Lex Immers is caught offside.
Alan Browne (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Alan Browne (Preston North End).
Stuart O'Keefe (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Preston North End. Ben Pearson replaces Paul Gallagher.
Tom Clarke (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lex Immers (Cardiff City).
Substitution, Cardiff City. Kagisho Dikgacoi replaces Anthony Pilkington.
Greg Cunningham (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Greg Cunningham (Preston North End).
Tom Lawrence (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Cardiff City 2, Preston North End 0. Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff City) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.