Bolton Wanderers began life under new ownership with a home defeat by Preston to slip 11 points from safety at the bottom of the Championship.
Liam Trotter stroked home to put the troubled Trotters ahead, with the club still to face a winding-up petition despite the Sports Shield consortium’s £7.5m takeover on Thursday.
Jordan Hugill met Adam Reach’s pass to nod in Preston’s leveller.
Marnick Vermijl won it four minutes from the end with a close-range finish.
Bolton, who have taken just one point from a possible 15 from their past five games, have taken only 26 points from 37 matches – a tally with which no side in 34 years has managed to survive relegation from the second to third tier at this stage of the season.
Wanderers now have to take at least 12 points from the last nine games to have any chance of avoiding the drop, but the immediate focus at the Macron Stadium will remain on the High Court as their case for an outstanding tax bill of £2.2m owed to HM Revenue & Customs is set to be concluded on 21 March.
Preston’s first win over Bolton in seven meetings, dating back to 1992, sees them stay 10th.
Before Hugill equalised just before the hour mark, Preston had failed to score against the Trotters in more than 23 years.
The match also marked a solemn occasion for Bolton as the club remembered the 33 people who perished at an FA Cup sixth round tie against Stoke at the club’s former Burnden Park stadium 70 years ago.
There was a minute’s applause from both sets of supporters on 33 minutes, while Bolton’s flag flew at half-mast all week.
Bolton Wanderers boss Neil Lennon:
“I thought we played well first half; I thought Preston were strong second half but we had a good spell and Zach Clough had great chance to put us 2-1 up. We missed good chances again to win the game and we got caught by a sucker punch.
“The sooner [the transfer embargo] gets lifted the better. If we can get players in quickly it would be of great benefit because the squad is very thin.
“[Referring to Jay Spearing’s omission] If he plays 50 per cent of the games, we need to pay £100,000 to Liverpool. We tried to get it deferred but we couldn’t get it done.”
Preston North End manager Simon Grayson:
“We started the game well but petered out towards the back end of the first half when I don’t think we were really at it.
“There were a few choice words at half-time because we have set standards and don’t want the season to peter out. We want to keep winning games and see where it takes us. They responded in a positive manner and looked a far better team in the second half.
“We have been to a few grounds in recent weeks that you know if you get back in the game you are going to cause opposition problems because of the quality we have but also the nervous tension that can be around. Bolton played some good stuff at times but we were a lot better and looked a real threat with pace and energy about us.”