Preston North End 3 Sunderland 2

In a game of two halves Preston held on in the second half to earn a valuable three points over second placed Sunderland at Deepdale watched by 16,940 the second highest of the season.

Preston took the lead in the 12 minute when Jeff Whitley had handballed after a Richard Creswell run. Eddie Lewis fired over a 25-yard free-kick left-footed from the left-hand side and Brian O'Neil looked to have slid the ball home before Cresswell from one yard out, shot into the bottom right.

Cresswell made it 2-0 when Dean Whitehead gave the ball away and Patrick Agyemang passed from in his own half to the former York City forward, who ran through and scored right-footed from 15 yards into the middle of the net.

Cresswell completed a first half hat-trick after 42 minutes when Preston manager Billy Davies ushered his players on from the touchline, Chris Sedgwick passed to Lewis who flicked the ball up and Cresswell scored right-footed from ten yards in off the right-hand post for his 15th goal of the season.

Whitehead saw a shot fly wide of the right-hand post after 50 minutes and Sedgwick was booked for foul on Sean Thornton.

Stephen Elliott made it 3-1 after 72 minutes when substitute Andy Welsh passed to him and he hit a 15-yard right-foot curler into the top left-hand corner of the net.

Lilywhites defender Claude Davis was booked for a foul on Chris Brown with 12 minutes to go.

Andy Lonergan saved a 25-yard free-kick from Thornton but then Thornton made it 3-2 after a pass from Stephen Wright, shooting left-footed into the bottom left-hand corner of the net form 15 yards.

However, Preston hung on for the victory.