Birmingham still in trouble after defeat to Preston
Blues are only two points above the bottom three.
Managerless Birmingham remain in relegation trouble heading into the final day of the Championship season after a 2-0 defeat to Preston.
Goals from Patrick Bauer and Brad Potts extended Blues’ winless streak to 13 league games and left them two points above the relegation zone ahead of their final match against Derby.
North End’s first win at Deepdale since February saw them end their final home match of the season in style, but their play-off hopes were ended after Cardiff won at Middlesbrough.
Birmingham midfielder Jude Bellingham created the first opening. The 17-year-old – who is reportedly heading for a big-money move to Borussia Dortmund – darted neatly past a couple of North End defenders before seeing a low strike blocked by Bauer.
The hosts fluffed a great chance in the ninth minute when Jayden Stockley blazed over from 10 yards after playing a smart one-two with Daniel Johnson.
The last action before the first half drinks break saw Birmingham go close. Bellingham’s in-swinging corner was met by Gary Gardner, but his glancing header fizzed inches off target.
Blues continued to press after the resumption and Scott Hogan screamed for a penalty when his close-range volley was beaten back by Bauer.
Ten minutes before the interval, Preston almost grabbed the opener when skipper Paul Gallagher curled a sweet 25-yard free-kick a whisker wide.
Soon after, Gallagher pounced on a loose ball a similar distance from goal, but this time his shot was too high.
However, two minutes before half-time the hosts broke the deadlock. Gallagher swung in a corner and centre-back Bauer sneaked past some static Blues defending before side-footing home from six yards.
Seconds later it was almost two but Blues goalkeeper Lee Camp produced a superb point-blank stop to keep out Stockley’s bullet header.
The first action of the second period saw Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd dive full length to brilliantly keep out Gardner’s crisp 20-yard volley.
Seconds later Rudd beat out skipper Harlee Dean’s point-blank header, with Bellingham driving the rebound off target.
Birmingham were on top early in the second period but they were almost punished for their misses when Camp rescued them, saving Stockley’s close-range header brilliantly.
This game was still anyone’s for the taking but Preston blew another chance to open up a two-goal buffer when Gallagher guided an effort well off target from just inside the box.
Potts wrapped up Preston’s deserved win in the 87th minute, tucking home neatly past Camp from a tight angle after finding space down the left.