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Birmingham boost survival hopes as Jay Stansfield goal sinks Preston
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Jay Stansfield scored the winner for Birmingham (Kieran Cleeves/PA).
Jay Stansfield scored the winner for Birmingham (Kieran Cleeves/PA).

Jay Stansfield’s goal ensured Gary Rowett celebrated victory in his first home game back in charge of struggling Birmingham as they eased their relegation fears with a priceless 1-0 win over play-off hopefuls Preston.

On-loan Fulham striker Stansfield’s 68th-minute strike – his 10th Sky Bet Championship goal of the season – secured interim boss Rowett and Blues a deserved first victory in eight games since manager Tony Mowbray was last in the dugout.

After four straight defeats and one point from the last 21, it was also City’s first clean sheet in nine as they remained outside the relegation zone.

In-form Preston were bidding for their third straight win and seventh victory in 11, but the best chances fell to Birmingham.

Watched by their second highest home attendance of the season of 24,511, Blues created two big chances in the first 16 minutes.

Koji Miyoshi released the unmarked Juninho Bacuna for a first-time angled effort from just inside the box that goalkeeper Freddie Woodman shovelled away at his near post before Jordan James’ low 25-yard drive was inches wide.

Preston’s first chance arrived in the 35th minute. Duane Holmes teed up Noah Mawene 15 yards out, but the midfielder trod on the ball and the chance was lost.

But, almost immediately, Birmingham gifted North End a golden opportunity.

Emanuel Aiwu missed Ethan Laird’s back header, allowing Robbie Brady to go clean through.

The captain opted to square the ball, but a recovery challenge from Lee Buchanan cleared the danger.

Aiwu then got away with what appeared a clear push on Preston striker Will Keane in the area after the striker burst away from him.

Keane got his own back with a late swipe across the back of Aiwu’s left leg to earn the first booking.

Blues returned to the attack and Buchanan was inches away with a firm left-footed angled drive that flew just wide.

City goalkeeper John Ruddy was called on for the first time when he comfortably smothered Brady’s low curling shot.

Stansfield got the all-important goal with the first opening of the second half.

Miyoshi’s short pass from inside his own half appeared to carry little danger, but, after one sliding North End player failed to cut it out, it was then completely missed by Liam Lindsay to gift Stansfield a clear route to goal.

The 21-year-old kept his cool to tuck the ball past the advancing Woodman and neatly into the bottom corner of the net.


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