Fulham folded to a second successive league defeat as struggling Preston ended their run of four Championship reserves thanks to a rare goal from David Nugent.
Seani Maguire put the hosts ahead from close range before both sides were reduced to ten men in a dramatic ending to the first half. Denis Odoi was given his marching orders after elbowing Patrick Baeur, before Joe Rafferty was sent off for a shocking tackle on Fulham substitute Joe Bryan.
Nugent scored his first North End goal since April 2007 when he overpowered Alfie Mawson to bundle home from close range and Scott Parker’s side didn’t really look threatening until Aleksandar Mitrovic’s deflected drive set up something of a grandstand finale. The visitors couldn’t force an equaliser and are now ten points adrift of second-placed West Brom. The end of Preston’s wretched run sees Alex Neill’s side move into the play-off places.
PRESTON NORTH END (4-1-4-1): Rudd; Rafferty, Hughes, Bauer, Huntingdon; Pearson (Clarke 83); Bodin (Harrop 84), Maguire, Browne, Potts; Nugent (Barkhuizen 75). Subs (not used): Hudson, Bayliss, Ledson, Stockley.
BOOKED: Huntingdon, Pearson, Browne, Potts.
SENT OFF: Rafferty.
GOALS: Maguire (23), Nugent (52).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Rodak; Christie, Odoi, Mawson (Kebano 60), Ream; Johansen, Onomah, Cavaleiro (Bryan 32), Knockaert (de la Torre 90+2); Mitrovic, Kamara. Subs (not used): Bettinelli, O’Riley, Harris, Taylor-Crossdale.
SENT OFF: Odoi.
REFEREE: Keith Stroud (Leicestershire).