Brentford too good for Preston at Deepdale
Brentford ended a run of four straight defeats with a deserved 3-1 win over Preston at Deepdale.
Goals from John Swift and Alan Judge's fine strike just before half-time - his 12th of the season - settled a pulsating clash.
Greg Cunningham's unfortunate own goal midway through the first half had earlier been immediately cancelled out by Adam Reach's cool finish.
Preston piled on the pressure in the second half, but David Button repelled the home side before Swift clinched the points.
Ahead of the game, Preston's impressive haul of ten points from the last 12 available starkly contrasted with Brentford's poor run.
The away side's confident passing belied that statistic early on, although both sides failed to make an impression on the game in a poor first 20 minutes.
Midway through the half, Jake Bidwell made Cunningham pay for a trip on the edge of the box, whipping in a vicious free-kick that deflected off his opposite number and into the corner of the net.
Preston were level two minutes later, when Harlee Dean failed to clear a routine attack, Reach sweeping the ball beyond Button's despairing dive.
Both sides traded bookings on the half-hour mark, with a cynical foul from Paul Huntington cancelled out moments later by Maxime Colin's late tackle.
The home side called for Colin to be shown a second yellow minutes before the interval, but the referee deemed that Cunningham's marauding run was blocked off legally.
Moments later, Brentford retook the lead with a fine goal from Judge, as the attacker smoothly collected a long pass to cut inside and stroke the ball past Sam Johnstone.
In first-half injury time, the referee was forced to deal with a major flashpoint following a swinging arm from Joe Garner, but after long consultation with his assistants, deemed yellow sufficient punishment.
A further booking followed for Paul Gallagher, as a ferocious end to the first half threatened to descend into chaos.
Eoin Doyle missed a golden opportunity to put Preston level soon after half-time, but the striker failed to even test Button after collecting Garner's perfect pass.
Lasse Vibe was the next man to pass up a great chance, as he headed over from inside the area following Bidwell's header back across goal.
Preston went agonisingly close to an equaliser with 20 minutes left, as Huntington headed onto the bar before Garner's strike was ruled out for a marginal offside.
Button produced a magnificent save to deny Preston again with 16 minutes remaining, somehow palming Gallagher's touch onto the bar from a Daniel Johnson strike.
And with 10 minutes to go Brentford had the points in the bag, as Swift's strike deflected past Johnstone.