Birmingham City 1-0 Preston North End: Stansfield earns vital win for Blues

Birmingham City interim manager Gary Rowett earned his first win back as Blues boss as Jay Stansfield's second-half goal proved enough to beat Preston North End.

They were in danger of dropping into the Championship's bottom three for the first time this season when rivals Huddersfield Town led at Stoke.

But the Potters equalised at the Bet 365 Stadium - followed by Stansfield's 68th-minute winner at St Andrew's as he cashed in on a double defensive calamity from the visitors.

Two Preston players slipped in trying to cut out a through ball from well inside his own half from Koji Miyoshi, the second of them, Liam Lindsay, falling over in a heap.

It left on-loan Blues top scorer Stansfield in the clear and he kept his head as he ran on to fire his 11th goal of the season.

Coming on top of the stunning late Good Friday defeat at QPR, it was Birmingham's first victory in the eight games since manager Tony Mowbray went on sick leave - and their first clean sheet too.

But Blues' second highest home attendance of the season - 24,511 - roared their side to victory as Ryan Lowe's Preston fell five points off the pace in the race to make the Championship play-offs.

Rowett's men wasted two good early chances as they failed to build on a busy start.

Miyoshi released the unmarked Juninho Bacuna for a first-time angled effort from just inside the box that keeper Freddie Woodman shovelled away at his near post before a low 25-yard drive from in-form Wales international midfielder Jordan James flew just inches wide.

Noah Mawene and Robbie Brady had chances for North End before Blues finally went ahead with a goal out of nothing.

Miyoshi's 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 Lindsay who gifted Stansfield a clear route to goal.

The 21-year-old Fulham loanee kept his cool to tuck the ball past the advancing Woodman into the bottom right corner to lift Rowett's side eight points clear of trouble.

Who's next?

Birmingham are on the road next Saturday when interim boss Rowett faces one of his former clubs Leicester.

Preston are on their travels again, with a trip to 14th-placed Watford.

Birmingham City interim boss Gary Rowett told BBC Radio WM:

"After the way the QPR game ended and the quick turnaround, it might have been easy to feel a bit sorry for ourselves.

"But we had a good energy about us. And it was just moments when we nearly got there before the goal finally came.

"When you're a young player, who has been frustrated recently, it would have been easy to panic and lose composure with so much time to think but Jay Stansfield showed what a natural finisher he is and found the bottom corner. He showed a bit of balls.

"It was an important three points. There's no feeling like winning games - the feeling from the crowd after the game, the feeling after the final whistle, the feeling as a player coming back into the dressing room."

Preston manager Ryan Lowe:

"We can't legislate for that slip. It cost us a point, minimum.

"But we could have had the game out of sight in the first half when we had two glorious chances to score and it would have been a potentially game-over situation at 2-0.

"My centre-half, who has been outstanding all season, slipped at the wrong time. And if you give a player of that calibre a one-versus-one he will have every chance of scoring.

"We did everything we could, but decision making and a lack of quality has cost us."