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Preston North End 0-1 West Bromwich Albion: Charlie Austin

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Preston vehemently protested the decision to award West Brom a penalty for goalkeeper Declan Rudd’s challenge on Kyle Edwards

Charlie Austin’s controversial 90th-minute penalty sent West Bromwich Albion back to the top of the Championship as they snatched a last-gasp victory at Preston.

Preston were adamant keeper Declan Rudd had not touched Baggies substitute Kyle Edwards but referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot and Austin slotted home to send Albion two points above Leeds.

The spot-kick gave West Brom a fifth successive victory but they left it late at Deepdale as injury-hit Preston, without a host of players including their entire first-choice back line, looked set to earn a point.

Instead, Alex Neil’s men saw their unbeaten home record ended and they remain sixth, just inside the play-off places but 11 points behind the table-topping Baggies.

Preston’s depleted defence had performed well to limit Albion, the Championship’s top scorers and now unbeaten in nine matches, to efforts from distance for much of the game.

Rudd denied Nathan Ferguson and Matt Phillips from distance in a one-sided first half while Kyle Bartley spurned Albion’s only real clear-cut chance, side-footing a Phillips free-kick wide from close range.

North End, however, were not content to settle for a point and leading scorer Daniel Johnson’s 20-yard strike forced a fine fingertip save from Baggies keeper Sam Johnstone after the break.

But as stoppage time approached, Edwards latched on to a hopeful ball over the top and went down in the area despite Rudd seeming to do his best to pull out of the challenge.

Austin coolly stroked home the penalty – his third goal in as many games – to condemn Preston to a third-straight defeat after losses at Derby and Hull.

Albion, meanwhile, now boast the division’s best away record with seven wins and just one defeat from 10 games as they became the first side to keep a clean sheet at Deepdale this season.

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