Match ends, Birmingham City 0, Preston North End 1.
Preston North End boosted their Championship play-off hopes with a narrow win over Birmingham City at St Andrew's.
After an even first half, the visitors should have taken the lead shortly after the break when Brad Potts wasted a great opportunity when he could only fire a low shot against the post.
Potts then drew a fine save from home goalkeeper Neil Etheridge before Preston eventually made their pressure tell when Scott Sinclair found the bottom corner.
Blues pushed for a leveller but North End managed to keep them at bay through seven minutes of added time to pick up a first win in three matches.
It was another dire night at home for Aitor Karanka's men, who have now lost six straight matches at St Andrew's and only picked up one point in nine home games.
Blues had recorded victory at Middlesbrough at the weekend to end a run of six league games without a win but they are now just six points above the relegation zone, having played three games more than 22nd-placed Rotherham.
In at times torrential rain, Preston's winner was the only real moment of quality, when Sinclair turned sharply on the halfway line and fed Jayson Molumby who drove forward before teeing up the former Aston Villa man to slot home his eighth of the season.
Alex Neil's men are seven points adrift of the play-off places ahead of Sunday's home game with promotion-chasing Reading.
Birmingham City manager Aitor Karanka:
"This group of players deserve to be much higher in the table. We need to do a lot of things to win games and on the other hand we have lost games we didn't deserve to lose.
"With the confidence and commitment we are a different team than we were two weeks ago.
"In 10 games played in the same way, maybe three or four we would have won and another six we would have drawn."
Preston boss Alex Neil:
"We've had a bit of a transitional season which was always going to come because of contracts and different things.
"To come and win in the manner we did, be 10th and a bit outside the play-offs, we've done pretty well.
"Hopefully this year, but certainly next year, is going to be a big year for us."
- 19San José
- 5FriendBooked at 22mins
- 17SánchezSubstituted forGardnerat 73'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 23ToralSubstituted forLekoat 60'minutes
- 11BelaSubstituted forHalilovicat 73'minutes
- 9HoganSubstituted forJutkiewiczat 60'minutes
- 31SinclairSubstituted forBarkhuizenat 77'minutes
- 21MolumbySubstituted forJohnsonat 86'minutes
- 19Riis Jakobsen
- Tony Harrington
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Birmingham City 0, Preston North End 1.
Foul by Mikel San José (Birmingham City).
Emil Riis Jakobsen (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Alen Halilovic (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ryan Ledson (Preston North End).
Attempt missed. Jonathan Leko (Birmingham City) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Maikel Kieftenbeld.
Foul by George Friend (Birmingham City).
Tom Barkhuizen (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Gary Gardner (Birmingham City) is shown the yellow card.
Offside, Preston North End. Daniel Johnson tries a through ball, but Emil Riis Jakobsen is caught offside.
Maxime Colin (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Daniel Johnson (Preston North End).
Substitution, Preston North End. Daniel Johnson replaces Jayson Molumby because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Ivan Sunjic (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Jonathan Leko.
Foul by Jonathan Leko (Birmingham City).
Alan Browne (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Mikel San José (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left following a corner.
Attempt blocked. Mikel San José (Birmingham City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Maikel Kieftenbeld.
Attempt missed. Maikel Kieftenbeld (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Alen Halilovic following a corner.