Jon Parkin's double eased Preston North End's relegation fears as their 10 men dented Cardiff City's play-off hopes.
The striker's 30th-minute penalty gave the hosts the lead against lethargic Cardiff after Paul Quinn was punished for a needless push on Ross Wallace.
Parkin fired his second moments after Preston's Paul Coutts was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Cardiff keeper Peter Enckelman gifted the hosts a third late on as his miss-kick allowed Chris Brown to score.
Enckelman has the unfortunate reputation as a calamity keeper following a host of high-profile howlers - and this was another to add to his unwanted collection.
The Finnish stopper is arguably best known for allowing a relatively comfortable throw-in to run under his feet while playing for Aston Villa against Birmingham in a second-city derby and conceding a bizarre goal.
He was also blamed for not stopping Kanu's winner for Portsmouth in the 2008 FA Cup final with Cardiff - and he was left red-faced again at Deepdale.
Players must take responsibility - Jones
Enckelman air-kicked a straight-forward ball back towards his goal near the left touchline and the loose ball trickled to Brown.
Enckelman failed to react quick enough and the North End sub showed great composure to chip the keeper from an acute angle to seal a comfortable win.
Sluggish City's play-off dreams were dealt a fatal blow here last season when a 6-0 defeat proved to be the beginning of the end for manager Dave Jones' promotion ambitions.
History repeated itself as off-form Preston's 3-0 win - following back-to-back defeats - means Cardiff have won just one in seven as concerns of a promotion-chase burn-out with a small squad engulf the Welsh club.
Preston's victory ensures the Lancashire club are looking upwards rather than over their shoulder, although Cardiff's revenge mission had started well as Chris Burke had a shot blocked and Ross McCormack went close with a long-range free-kick.
But Preston should have broken the deadlock inside 20 minutes.
Preston's Billy Jones challenges Cardiff's Michael Chopra
Keith Treacy, running onto target-man Parkin's cute defence-splitting pass, was one-on-one with Enckelman, but the right-winger dragged his shot across the goal and wide.
Darren Ferguson's men did take the lead on the half-hour mark in dramatic circumstances as Parkin scuffed home from the spot.
Referee Andy Hall awarded Preston a penalty, after consulting with his assistant Duncan Street, when Cardiff full-back Quinn was punished for an unnecessary off-the-ball push on Wallace when the play was 30 yards away.
It was the first penalty the Bluebirds have conceded all season and Parkin converted by sending Enckelman the wrong way.
Preston thought they had scored a second 10 minutes later, but Neil Mellor's flick into the net from Treacy's left-wing cross was ruled out by the linesman as the former Liverpool striker was offside.
Bothroyd livened up a weary Cardiff with a good run and shot that brought the best out of Preston keeper Andy Lonergan, before Peter Whittingham's long-range free-kick flew wide.
Cardiff were given further hope when the hosts were reduced to 10 men when Coutts, who had been booked on the stroke of half-time, was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a challenge on Burke.
But, within a minute, North End doubled their lead as Parkin punished Cardiff's lame defence for not clearing a routine free-kick as he showed fine skill to turn Anthony Gerrard and drill a low right-foot shot past Enckelman for his 12th goal of the season.
The 28-year-old - known affectionately as 'The Beast' came agonisingly close to completing his hat-trick shortly before the hour mark when he again outfoxed the visiting defence with some clever footwork before curling a shot onto the far post with Enckelman a mere spectator.
Lonergan again denied Cardiff as he saved McCormack's strike while Anthony Gerrard had a header blocked by Sean St Ledger as the Deepdale misery deepened for the visitors, the Welsh club having only won once in 11 trips to Preston.
Enckelman's late moment of madness was the third time in the afternoon that Cardiff helped contribute to their downfall.
Then Bothroyd missed a late one-on-one.
The Cardiff striker raced onto Burke's incisive pass, but his strike was tipped around the post by the excellent Lonergan in a miss that summed up Cardiff's day.
Preston manager Darren Ferguson: "Jon [Parkin] took Cardiff to the cleaners and absolutely battered them.
"The second and third goals, I don't think you'll see better goals all day.
"Jon is a big lad, size-wise, but technically he's as good as anyone.
"He's been spot on and has taken his chance. All credit should go to Jon.
"But it was a great afternoon for us; three goals and a clean sheet, so the lads deserve a hell of a lot of credit."
Cardiff manager Dave Jones:
"Giving away a penalty was a piece of stupidity.
"There was a push and it was definitely a penalty. It was a horrendous mistake and stupidity costs you.
"We've not done the right thing. There was a lot of stupidity and a lot of my players need to take a long, hard look at themselves."
Live text and stats
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Parkin (pen) 30
05 Mawene yellow card
12 St. Ledger
15 Coutts yellow card, red card
16 Treacy (Sedgwick 56)
26 Parkin (Brown 82)
33 Mellor (Carter 56)
02 McNaughton yellow card
06 Gyepes yellow card (Kennedy 46)
14 Quinn yellow card (Matthews 61)
11 Burke yellow card
08 Chopra yellow card
Ref: HallAtt: 11,777
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+5:16 The match has reached full-time.
90:00+5:03 Shot from just outside the penalty box by Michael Chopra misses to the left of the target.
90:00+1:38 Effort from outside the penalty box by Mark Kennedy goes wide right of the target.
90:00+1:11 Mark Kennedy takes a shot. Youl Mawene gets a block in.
90:00+0:25 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Chris Burke, save by Andy Lonergan.
90:00+0:07 Jay Bothroyd takes a shot. Save made by Andy Lonergan.
89:30 Corner from the right by-line taken by Chris Burke, Matthew James manages to make a clearance.
89:25 The ball is crossed by Adam Matthews, Sean St. Ledger manages to make a clearance.
88:56 Chris Sedgwick concedes a free kick for a foul on Ross McCormack. Direct free kick taken by Gavin Rae.
87:26 The free kick is swung in right-footed by Ross McCormack, clearance made by Billy Jones.
87:26 Booking The referee cautions Youl Mawene for unsporting behaviour.
87:18 Foul by Youl Mawene on Jay Bothroyd, free kick awarded.
85:59 GOAL - Chris Brown:Preston 3 - 0 Cardiff Chris Brown fires in a goal from outside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Preston 3-0 Cardiff.
84:54 Adam Matthews produces a cross, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Anthony Gerrard misses to the left of the
83:16 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ross Wallace.
81:12 Substitution Chris Brown comes on in place of Jon Parkin.
81:12 The official flags Ross McCormack offside. Free kick taken by Andy Lonergan.
81:04 The ball is crossed by Adam Matthews.
79:31 Ross McCormack takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Chris Sedgwick.
79:20 Chris Burke sends in a cross, Billy Jones manages to make a clearance.
78:31 Effort from the edge of the area by Jon Parkin goes wide of the right-hand upright.
77:24 Adam Matthews sends in a cross, blocked by Tom Williams.
76:33 Ross Wallace crosses the ball.
74:45 Booking Booking for Michael Chopra for unsporting behaviour.
73:53 Foul by Michael Chopra on Youl Mawene, free kick awarded. Andy Lonergan takes the indirect free kick.
72:29 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ross Wallace.
71:19 Jon Parkin is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Peter Enckelman.
68:09 The ball is delivered by Chris Burke, save by Andy Lonergan.
68:01 Jay Bothroyd produces a cross, clearance by Sean St. Ledger.
67:02 Michael Chopra is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Andy Lonergan.
65:23 Jay Bothroyd delivers the ball, Sean St. Ledger manages to make a clearance.
65:12 Mark Kennedy sends in a cross, clearance by Jon Parkin.
64:20 Corner from the left by-line taken by Ross McCormack, Sean St. Ledger manages to make a clearance.
64:02 The ball is crossed by Anthony Gerrard, Ross McCormack takes a shot. Save by Andy Lonergan.
63:51 Centre by Chris Burke, Tom Williams gets a block in.
62:31 Booking Kevin McNaughton goes into the referee's book.
62:21 Kevin McNaughton concedes a free kick for a foul on Ross Wallace. Direct free kick taken by Sean St. Ledger.
61:49 Foul by Matthew James on Michael Chopra, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed by Ross McCormack, clearance by Jon Parkin.
60:56 Substitution Paul Quinn goes off and Adam Matthews comes on.
60:37 Sean St. Ledger fouled by Jay Bothroyd, the ref awards a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Andy Lonergan.
58:30 Jon Parkin takes a shot from close range that bounces off the post.
57:37 Jon Parkin challenges Mark Kennedy unfairly and gives away a free kick. Peter Enckelman takes the indirect free kick.
57:13 A cross is delivered by Jay Bothroyd, Andy Lonergan makes a save.
56:32 Ross McCormack takes a shot. Save by Andy Lonergan.
55:39 Substitution Darren Carter comes on in place of Neil Mellor.
55:11 Substitution Chris Sedgwick is brought on as a substitute for Keith Treacy.
54:33 Outswinging corner taken by Chris Burke, Billy Jones makes a clearance.
54:27 Ross McCormack delivers the ball, Tom Williams manages to make a clearance.
53:18 The assist for the goal came from Sean St. Ledger.
53:18 GOAL - Jon Parkin:Preston 2 - 0 Cardiff A goal is scored by Jon Parkin from just inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. Preston 2-0 Cardiff.
52:41 Booking Chris Burke shown a yellow card.
52:36 Foul by Chris Burke on Neil Mellor, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Tom Williams.
51:44 Free kick crossed left-footed by Peter Whittingham, Tom Williams makes a clearance.
51:44 Sent off Paul Coutts is shown a red card.
51:31 Chris Burke fouled by Paul Coutts, the ref awards a free kick.
50:04 Free kick awarded for a foul by Keith Treacy on Chris Burke. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Peter Whittingham from
right channel, Jon Parkin manages to make a clearance.
48:35 Anthony Gerrard fouled by Jon Parkin, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Mark Kennedy.
48:08 Gavin Rae has an effort at goal from outside the box missing to the wide left of the goal.
47:52 Chris Burke delivers the ball, save made by Andy Lonergan.
47:04 Booking Paul Quinn receives a caution.
46:34 Paul Quinn gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Keith Treacy. Andy Lonergan restarts play with the free kick.
45:25 Youl Mawene gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Michael Chopra. Direct free kick taken by Peter Whittingham.
45:11 Keith Treacy takes a shot. Kevin McNaughton gets a block in.
45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
45:01 Substitution (Cardiff) makes a substitution, with Mark Kennedy coming on for Gabor Gyepes.
45:00+2:59 The referee calls an end to the first half.
45:00+2:20 Ross Wallace sends in a cross, blocked by Kevin McNaughton.
45:00+0:36 Shot comes in from Peter Whittingham from the free kick.
45:00+0:36 Booking The referee shows Paul Coutts a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
45:00+0:30 Paul Coutts concedes a free kick for a foul on Peter Whittingham.
44:18 Unfair challenge on Jay Bothroyd by Youl Mawene results in a free kick. Peter Whittingham shoots direct from the free kick.
43:49 Jay Bothroyd takes a shot. Save by Andy Lonergan.
42:51 Long range shot by Chris Burke goes wide right of the target.
42:05 Corner taken by Chris Burke from the left by-line, Youl Mawene makes a clearance.
41:56 Jay Bothroyd produces a cross, Paul Coutts manages to make a clearance.
40:06 The assistant referee signals for offside against Neil Mellor. Peter Enckelman restarts play with the free kick.
39:40 The ball is crossed by Keith Treacy.
38:58 The ball is sent over by Keith Treacy, save by Peter Enckelman.
34:28 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gavin Rae on Paul Coutts. Ross Wallace has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.
33:47 Jay Bothroyd has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses right.
33:27 The ball is delivered by Neil Mellor, save by Peter Enckelman.
29:09 GOAL - Jon Parkin:Preston 1 - 0 Cardiff Placed penalty scored by Jon Parkin. Preston 1-0 Cardiff.
27:25 Paul Quinn gives away a Penalty for an unfair challenge on Ross Wallace.
26:13 The referee blows for offside against Jay Bothroyd. Indirect free kick taken by Andy Lonergan.
25:58 The ball is sent over by Jay Bothroyd.
23:22 A cross is delivered by Michael Chopra.
22:40 Tom Williams fouled by Jay Bothroyd, the ref awards a free kick. Andy Lonergan takes the indirect free kick.
20:32 The ball is crossed by Keith Treacy.
20:19 Ross Wallace sends in a cross.
19:44 Michael Chopra takes a shot. Blocked by Jon Parkin.
19:04 Billy Jones gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Michael Chopra. Ross McCormack crosses the ball from the free
kick right-footed from left wing, save by Andy Lonergan.
17:37 Centre by Neil Mellor.
Correction - 15:26 Keith Treacy produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the left-hand post.
15:26 Effort from inside the area by Keith Treacy misses to the left of the goal.
13:59 Billy Jones challenges Ross McCormack unfairly and gives away a free kick. Peter Whittingham crosses the ball in from the
free kick, clearance made by Paul Coutts.
13:26 Neil Mellor produces a left-footed shot from outside the penalty box and misses right.
12:37 Inswinging corner taken by Paul Coutts from the left by-line, Jon Parkin takes a shot. Anthony Gerrard makes a clearance.
12:08 A cross is delivered by Ross Wallace, Anthony Gerrard makes a clearance.
11:07 Neil Mellor sends in a cross, blocked by Paul Quinn.
10:56 The ball is crossed by Neil Mellor, blocked by Paul Quinn.
10:16 Paul Coutts fouled by Gavin Rae, the ref awards a free kick. Sean St. Ledger restarts play with the free kick.
10:01 The ball is delivered by Paul Quinn, Billy Jones makes a clearance.
8:30 Corner taken by Peter Whittingham played to the near post, clearance made by Jon Parkin.
7:52 Jon Parkin concedes a free kick for a foul on Gabor Gyepes. Peter Enckelman takes the indirect free kick.
6:50 Jay Bothroyd fouled by Youl Mawene, the ref awards a free kick. Shot comes in from Ross McCormack from the free kick.
6:32 Keith Treacy is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Peter Enckelman.
4:21 Ross Wallace crosses the ball, clearance by Anthony Gerrard.
3:45 Chris Burke takes a shot. Sean St. Ledger gets a block in.
3:01 Jay Bothroyd concedes a free kick for a foul on Sean St. Ledger. Sean St. Ledger takes the free kick.
2:12 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Neil Mellor by Gabor Gyepes. Matthew James takes the direct free kick.
0:50 Effort on goal by Ross Wallace from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
0:11 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jay Bothroyd on Sean St. Ledger. Free kick taken by Andy Lonergan.
0:00 The referee gets the game started.
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