For the second time this week, Jon Parkin came on as a late substitute and scored an even later winner for Preston. A gripping game was going into time added on when Ross Wallace whipped in a cross for the big striker to control on his chest and fire home.
"We have done the same thing to other teams and now we know how it feels," said Birmingham's manager, Alex McLeish. "It was a cruel twist." It meant that Birmingham lost ground to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Championship promotion race.
Two enterprising sides had created plenty of chances, but Andy Lonergan and Maik Taylor made a string of quality saves to frustrate both attacks.
City were boosted by having Liam Ridgewell and Franck Queudrue in defence, but neither knew a great deal about a deflected shot from Ross Wallace that almost dipped under Maik Taylor's crossbar. That was part of a lively start from Preston side but they were almost caught out by a low shot from Lee Carsley, saved by Lonergan at full stretch.
Radhi Jaidi had a header saved for Birmingham, and Callum Davidson went close at the other end. Quincy Owusu-Abeiye was showing some fancy footwork and alarming pace for Brum and his clever link up with Nigel Quashie almost produced the first goal.
It was Preston who finished an richly entertaining half the stronger, though, with Taylor having to save from Paul McKenna and Wallace. Lonergan required treatment on an eye injury, but, like Taylor, had been able to see danger when in threatened.
The second half did not start off as quite such a wide-open spectacle, but David Murphy's cross and Phillips's glancing header 20 minutes after the break were not quite good enough to beat Lonergan, who got down superbly to save. He also dived at the feet of the substitute Cameron Jerome, to defuse another threat and saved a low shot from Quashie. Preston's best chances of breaking the deadlock came from a chip by the persistent Wallace and a sortie by Parkin.
It remained, though, the sort of match to give goalless draws a good name until Parkin grabbed the winner.Reuse content