Middlesbrough's slim play-off hopes remain alive after a fortuitous win.
Boro keeper Brad Jones saved efforts from Ross Wallace, Darren Carter and Neil Mellor before Chris Killen headed in Barry Robson's free-kick.
Just before half-time Jones denied Wallace with his feet, while in the second half the Scot's powerful strike cannoned back off the post.
The visitors also had a penalty appeal turned down before Jonathan Franks fired in a second goal on 90 minutes.
Middlesbrough boss Gordon Strachan: "We've had a traumatic couple of days with injuries and illness and the team got changed this morning three or four times.
"The win had nothing to do with football, but a lot to do with drive, determination and a will not to lose.
"Preston must feel unfortunate, but it's the only time I can say we've had a real bit of luck."
Preston boss Darren Ferguson: "We deserved to win. I thought we were excellent.
"I'd rather play badly and win, obviously, but I thought my players' performance was top-drawer. I can't really have any complaints.
"I've just said to them in the dressing room, if we can play to that standard we've got a good chance of winning most of the seven games we have left."
Live text and stats
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
06 Pogatetz (Taylor 58)
19 McManus yellow card
27 Bennett (Naughton 46)
18 Miller (Lita 71)
02 Hart (Jones 63)
12 St. Ledger
11 Carter yellow card
25 Wallace yellow card
09 Brown (Parkin 63)
33 Mellor yellow card
Ref: TannerAtt: 16,974
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+5:15 The referee signals the end of the game.
90:00+4:34 Booking Neil Mellor receives a caution.
90:00+3:48 Foul by Neil Mellor on Rhys Williams, free kick awarded. Jonathan Franks restarts play with the free kick.
90:00+2:53 Foul by Sean St. Ledger on Chris Killen, free kick awarded. Barry Robson takes the free kick.
90:00+1:40 Effort from outside the penalty box by Callum Davidson goes wide left of the goal.
90:00+0:02 Leroy Lita takes a shot. Save by Andy Lonergan.
89:43 Assist by Leroy Lita.
89:43 GOAL - Jonathan Franks:Middlesbrough 2 - 0 Preston Jonathan Franks fires in a goal from inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Middlesbrough 2-0 Preston.
88:37 The referee blows for offside against Leroy Lita. Andy Lonergan takes the free kick.
87:45 Corner from the left by-line taken by Ross Wallace, Sean St. Ledger takes a shot. Save made by Brad Jones.
86:21 Stephen McManus fouled by Ross Wallace, the ref awards a free kick. The ball is sent over by Barry Robson, Kyle Naughton has
an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand post.
85:29 Leroy Lita has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide left of the target.
84:01 Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Barry Robson, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Chris Killen
goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
77:11 Leroy Lita has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide left of the target.
76:33 Neil Mellor takes a shot. Save by Brad Jones.
75:46 Chris Killen takes a shot. Callum Davidson gets a block in.
74:21 David Wheater challenges Jon Parkin unfairly and gives away a free kick. Liam Chilvers takes the free kick.
73:37 Ross Wallace takes a shot. Save by Brad Jones.
72:28 Unfair challenge on Stephen McManus by Neil Mellor results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Stephen McManus.
70:30 Sean St. Ledger restarts play with the free kick.
70:30 Substitution Lee Miller goes off and Leroy Lita comes on.
70:30 Free kick awarded for a foul by David Wheater on Neil Mellor.
67:25 Kyle Naughton produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the goal.
66:27 Free kick awarded for a foul by Rhys Williams on Matthew James. Andy Lonergan takes the direct free kick.
63:32 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Franks by Billy Jones. Free kick taken by Stephen McManus.
62:03 Substitution Billy Jones replaces Michael Hart.
62:03 Substitution Chris Brown leaves the field to be replaced by Jon Parkin.
61:14 Corner taken by Ross Wallace from the left by-line, Header on goal by Chris Brown from inside the box goes harmlessly over
60:42 Outswinging corner taken by Richard Chaplow.
59:16 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Richard Chaplow.
58:44 Ross Wallace produces a volleyed left-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that hits the post.
57:54 Substitution (Middlesbrough) makes a substitution, with Andrew Taylor coming on for Emanuel Pogatetz.
56:24 Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Hart on Jonathan Franks. Barry Robson crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed
from left wing, clearance by Callum Davidson.
55:42 Chris Brown takes a shot. Brad Jones makes a comfortable save.
54:49 Lee Miller is caught offside. Free kick taken by Liam Chilvers.
52:29 Barry Robson takes the outswinging corner, Shot from 12 yards from David Wheater. Chris Killen gets a block in.
51:23 Kyle Naughton takes a shot. Blocked by Sean St. Ledger. The official flags Barry Robson offside. Indirect free kick taken
by Andy Lonergan.
49:38 Darren Carter challenges Kyle Naughton unfairly and gives away a free kick. A cross is delivered by Barry Robson, Jonathan
Franks takes a shot. Save by Andy Lonergan.
48:13 The official flags Chris Brown offside. Free kick taken by Brad Jones.
45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
45:01 Substitution Kyle Naughton on for Joe Bennett.
45:00+2:08 The first half comes to an end.
44:33 Chris Killen fouled by Darren Carter, the ref awards a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Barry
43:50 The assistant referee flags for offside against Neil Mellor. Indirect free kick taken by Brad Jones.
42:50 Shot by Ross Wallace. Brad Jones makes a brilliant save.
39:47 Ross Wallace produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick.
39:47 Booking Stephen McManus is given a yellow card.
39:31 Foul by Stephen McManus on Neil Mellor, free kick awarded.
31:18 Emanuel Pogatetz takes the free kick.
31:18 Booking Ross Wallace receives a yellow card.
31:10 Barry Robson fouled by Ross Wallace, the ref awards a free kick.
30:07 David Wheater restarts play with the free kick.
30:07 Booking Darren Carter receives a caution.
29:34 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Joe Bennett by Darren Carter.
28:23 Assist by Barry Robson.
28:23 GOAL - Chris Killen:Middlesbrough 1 - 0 Preston Chris Killen grabs a headed goal from deep inside the penalty area. Middlesbrough 1-0 Preston.
27:39 Unfair challenge on Lee Miller by Sean St. Ledger results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Barry Robson.
26:33 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Richard Chaplow, save by Brad Jones.
26:09 Shot by Darren Carter from 18 yards. Save made by Brad Jones.
24:11 Stephen McManus concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Brown. Free kick crossed left-footed by Ross Wallace from right wing.
22:29 Chris Killen is penalised for a handball. Indirect free kick taken by Andy Lonergan.
21:53 Corner taken right-footed by Richard Chaplow from the left by-line, save by Brad Jones.
21:37 Effort on goal by Neil Mellor from 20 yards. Brad Jones makes a save.
16:46 Richard Chaplow produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the right-hand post.
15:28 Unfair challenge on Sean St. Ledger by Lee Miller results in a free kick. Andy Lonergan takes the direct free kick.
14:44 Lee Miller produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.
12:32 Barry Robson is penalised for a handball. Ross Wallace produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick, save made by Brad
12:03 Barry Robson challenges Chris Brown unfairly and gives away a free kick. Callum Davidson restarts play with the free kick.
9:32 Free kick awarded for a foul by Emanuel Pogatetz on Ross Wallace. Ross Wallace crosses the ball in from the free kick.
6:05 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ross Wallace, save made by Brad Jones.
5:28 Barry Robson concedes a free kick for a foul on Neil Mellor. Liam Chilvers takes the free kick.
3:08 Darren Carter concedes a free kick for a foul on Barry Robson. Barry Robson crosses the ball, Headed effort from deep inside
the penalty area by David Wheater goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
1:11 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Barry Robson by Sean St. Ledger. Direct free kick taken by Barry Robson.
0:00 The game begins.
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