Cardiff City 2-1 Preston North End

Lex Immers

Lex Immers of Cardiff City gets above Tom Clarke of Preston North End as he looks to head at goal

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.

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Anthony Pilkington slots home the penalty in the first period

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.

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Cardiff striker Anthony Pilkington celebrates after opening the scoring

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.

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Lee Peltier of Cardiff City and Greg Cunningham of Preston North End compete for the ball

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.

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