Bristol City kept their Championship play-off bid on track with a 2-0 victory over Preston at Ashton Gate.
The hosts took an eighth minute lead when Tommy Rowe’s in-swinging corner from the right was met with a powerful downward header by Famara Diedhiou for his fifth goal of the season.
Zak Vyner, playing in midfield rather than his normal centre-back role, added the second on 77 minutes with what appeared a mishit left-footed shot from 15 yards that crept inside the far post after the ball had dropped to him in a crowded box.
It was Vyner’s first City goal and ensured a win his side just about deserved for their first half dominance. Preston improved after the break without forcing enough saves from Dan Bentley.
Robins head coach Dean Holden recalled Kasey Palmer to midfield following his loan spell at Swansea after Antoine Semenyo pulled out for personal reasons. Vyner and Jack Hunt replaced Tyreeq Bakinson and Adrian Mariappa.
Preston boss Alex Neil handed debuts to goalkeeper Daniel Iversen, on loan from Leicester City, and midfielder Ben Whiteman, signed from Doncaster Rovers this week. Two more loan recruits, Jayson Molumby and Ched Evans were on the bench.
City made by far the better start with Palmer in the thick of the action on the left flank. His curling sixth minute shot from distance was only narrowly off target.
Diedhiou’s goal came as no surprise. Tomas Kalas then headed over from a free kick and Palmer sent another shot just wide.
Iversen tipped over a Diedhiou drive as Preston were hurried into numerous passing errors. It took them 36 minutes to register a shot on target and then Scott Sinclair’s tame effort was straight at Bentley.
It was the only time the City keeper was brought into action in the opening 45 minutes and City were well worth their half-time lead.
Preston began the second half more brightly and almost equalised on 57 minutes when Paul Huntington’s header from a Ben Whiteman corner clipped the top of the crossbar.
Suddenly it was North End dominating possession and City defending desperately.
Chris Martin had a low shot saved as City battled to reassert. Then substitute Han-Noah Massengo tested Iversen with a better effort that was palmed around a post.
Vyner’s goal suggested it wasn’t Preston’s day and the home side protected their two-goal lead with relative comfort in the closing stages.
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