Preston NE 2-1 Cardiff City
The game started well for Cardiff with both Paul Parry and Joe Ledley recovering from minor injuries to start the game.
Preston started brightly with Cardiff looking a little off the pace but City had the best early chance through Paul Parry.
The first major action came on 9 minutes when Dave Nugent broke free following a Roger Johnson missed header, Glenn Loovens hesitated before challenging and looked to have got some of the ball but the referee decided, after consultation with his assistant, that the challenge was illegal and that Loovens was the last man. The early sending off rattled City and a major re-shuffle was needed as McNaughton slotted into the centre, Ledley to left back, Paul Parry moved to the left and Chopra dropped back to the right side of midfield. Such a major change in organisation was bound to affect City but Cardiff still looked dangerous and remained positive.
On the half hour, Simon Whaley forced a good save from Neil Alexander and immediately after star striker Dave Nugent was booked for a foul on Joe Ledley and within 2 minutes picked up his second booking by lunging into Kevin McNaughton.
With both sides down to 10 men Cardiff were back in the match but ironically looked worse off. When up against 11 Preston players Cardiff were disciplined and controlled but became slack and slower when facing just 10.
HT: Preston 0-0 Cardiff
Paul Simpson changed things for PNE at half time with Patrick Agyemang coming on and the change proved crucial as within 2 minutes he had made space in front of McNaughton and shot low into the bottom corner to take the lead for Preston.
City hit back within 2 minutes as MICHAEL CHOPRA held off his marker to his an unstoppable shot into the top of the net to level the scores. Cardiff were now the more positive and left 2 up front in search of the win but were struggling to create chances. Neil Alexander was again forced into action to save well from Agyemang after a one-two with Simon Whaley, who struck the resulting corner into the side netting.
In the 65th minute, Preston re-took the lead with danny pugh scoring his 1st goal when free at far post. Joe Ledley allowed the cross from Whaley when perhaps he could have closed down quicker.
Kevin Campbell came on for Parry and City pushed 3 up front but the former Baggies man stuggled to impact and lacked quality in his crossing. Willo Flood came on for McPhail with 5 minutes to go.
Cardiff did create one excellent chance to snatch a point as Campbell on the right passed to Chopra who scuffed his shot from close range and sent it just wide, it was a great chance and Chopra looked devastated sinking onto the floor with his head in his hands.
Injury time saw McPhail go close with a free kick that was tipped over by Nash and Alexander came up for the resulting corner but Preston were not put under too much pressure.
It was a tired looking Cardiff team that turned up and the pressing tactic and slick passing were gone. Either team could have won and the referee was inconsistent to say the least but City will be looking to improve for Tuesday. Glenn Loovens will be suspended (assuming no appeal is made) but Darren Purse returns from his ban.
Norwich lost meaning that Cardiff are still sitting on the top of the Championship table, ahead of Birmingham City on goal difference but Cardiff will need to improve to continue to challenge. The international break clearly took its toll and City need to regroup and re-build up their momentum. City have an early chance to atone and are in action on Tuesday night against Plymouth Argyle, held today by QPR.