Gray night for Preston
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Ten man Sheffield United recorded their first win of the season with a 1-0 win at Preston.
Ten-man Sheffield United recorded their first win of the season with a battling 1-0 victory at Preston.
Andy Gray's early goal proved to be enough for The Blades who were forced to defend for over 70 minutes with just ten men after Phil Jagielka was sent off for a professional foul.
United got off to a dream start with Gray heading home from close range after Leigh Bromby had nodded Michael Tonge's corner back across the face of goal.
The goal stung Preston into action and Paddy Kenny was forced to dive full length to keep out a shot from Eddie Lewis on ten minutes.
Preston were awarded the chance to get back into the game four minutes later when they won a penalty after Jagielka was sent off for pushing David Healy inside the box, but the normally reliable Graham Alexander saw his effort saved by Kenny.
Preston dominated possession for the rest of the first half and Chris Lucketti went close on 33 minutes when he rose highest to meet Erick Skora's corner, but he could not direct his header on target.
Healy had two chances to draw Preston level just before the break, seeing Bromby get in a vital block to his goalbound shot and then flashing a shot from Alexander's cross just over the crossbar.
Preston threw everything into attack in the second half in a bid to get back into the game and Lewis was inches away from scoring on 66 minutes when he saw his free kick from the edge of the area clip the top of the crossbar.
The Blades almost caught Preston on the break two minutes later with substitute Jonathan Forte breaking clear on goal and firing a shot against the legs of Andy Lonergan and when the ball came back into the box Alan Quinn was unlucky to see his shot fly just wide of the post.
United substitute Ashley Ward almost grabbed a second six minutes from time with a deflected shot, but Lonergan produced a brilliant reflex save to keep out the effort.