The head Gardner VITAL STATS
AITOR KARANKA believes he is building something special with Birmingham.
And no wonder the Spanish manager was jumping for joy after his late Gary Gardner substitution snatched victory at Deepdale.
The midfielder (above, celebrating) came off the bench and scored with his first touch to sink the off-colour Lilywhites, who set an unwanted club record of six straight home defeats. “A hundred per cent right it was an inspired substitution,” said Karanka.
“I knew Gary could make an impact. I’ve said from the beginning I wanted to build a really competitive squad – and everyone is fighting together. We are feeling really good and improving. We’ve won two in a row, so hopefully we can build on this.”
Debutant Riley McGree fired the Blues ahead in the second minute with a sweet strike. But striker Jayden Stockley levelled for the Lilywhites with a stunning 30-yard volley that left keeper Neil Etheridge no chance.
However, there was a sting in the e tale for the hosts as Gardner won it with a clinical header, his first touch, just off the bench.
“We didn’t start the game very well and the goal we conceded was s ridiculous,” moaned Preston manager ger Alex Neil. “We’ve got to be stronger, r, that was a dreadful start.
“We had a couple of decent opportunities, but when those chances nces come our way we seem to miss them. em.
“Hard work and repetition is the only way of turning things around.”
PRESTON NORTH END: Bauer 7, Fisher 6 (Rafferty ferty 65, 5); Harrop 7, Johnson 7, Browne 7, Gallagher 6 (Ledson on 61, 5), Barkhuizen 7; Stockley 8 (Riis 75, 5).
Unused subs: Ripley, Maguire, Sinclair, Potts. BIRMINGHAM CITY: Etheridge 7; Pedersen 7, Dean n 7, Jose 7, Roberts 7, Dacres-Cogley 6 (Colin 86); McGree 7 (Gardner dner 84), Sunjic 7, Sanchez 6; Jutkiewicz 6, Leko 6 (Bela 58, 5).
Unused subs: Prieto, Friend, Kieftenbeld, Hogan.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Riley McGree. Aussie ace e scored and dazzled on his debut for the Blues.
REFEREE: Tony Harrington 7.