Grayson was forced into changes with Garner starting the first of his three match suspension after Kilkenny's red card at Port Vale was transferred across to him. Kilkenny missed the match as Bristol City are his parent club.
Wright and King paired up in defence with Clarke and Laird in the full back positions. Humphrey played on the right wing but at times resembled a right back. Gallagher floated in from the left whilst youngster Brownhill partnered Keane in midfield. Davies started up front alongside Beavon.
Preston started brightly but again were unable to breakthrough Bristol City who look to be misplaced in the league table currently occupying the relegation places.
City who have just been relegated from the Championship showed that they can play football which made for a more open than usual game at Deepdale give numerous opponents who have simply settled foe putting ten or eleven men behind the ball.
North End couldn't capitalise until after the half hour mark. Gallagher drifted in a free kick which was nodded into the path of King who headed home to give North End the lead.
The visitors came back into the game and in the second half applied pressure. Emmanuel-Thomas looked a threat throughout and Wagstaff hit the bar late on.
As the game was drawing to a close a ball was played forward by Preston with Osbourne and Gallagher in pursuit. The City play grabbed Gallagher by the throat. The Preston forward swung a left hook and both were sent off with a melee ensuing in the tunnel.
The victory was hard fought and with Wolves and Orient dropping points the gap to the leaders is now only six points. North End play Wycombe in the FA Cup next week when Gallagher will start the first of a three match ban.