Preston withstood a barrage of chances from visiting side Oldham to claim a 2-1 victory at Deepdale in Sky Bet League One.
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Just a point separated the sides before the meeting, but Oldham shot out of the blocks as the home side looked lethargic.
For all the Latics' domination however, they couldn't quite fashion a chance. Preston took advantage and claimed the lead against the run of play on 13 minutes, and their goal had more than a touch of fortuitousness. Joel Byrom's free-kick from 20 yards out took a huge deflection off Stuart Beavon, wrong-footing Mark Oxley and handing the lead to the hosts.
Oldham continued to battle away in search of a goal, with Sidney Schmeltz at the heart of the sustained pressure. Lee Johnson saw his men peg Preston back for 20 minutes of the opening half, hitting the post and having a shot cleared off the line.
Simon Grayson's charges again stunned the visitors though, and their luck returned when a dubious penalty was awarded for a James Wesolowski foul on Kevin Davies. The former Bolton men brushed himself off to dispatch the penalty on 39 minutes.
Oldham continued the second half in much the same way, dominating possession for prolonged periods. They finally found the breakthrough on 83 minutes when James Tarkowski's bullet header from a corner evaded Declan Rudd. For all their hard work however, Preston held out for the win to rise into the play-offs in sixth, while Oldham drop a place to 16th.