Manchester United rookie Matthew James made a dream debut for Preston with a fortuitous early strike which helped put a desperately disappointing Sheffield United to the sword in a 2-1 win at Deepdale.
The England Under-20 midfielder, 18, claimed the credit in the 10th minute when his low 20-yard shot deflected off Blades defender Nyron Nosworthy and wrongfooted goalkeeper Ian Bennett.
Jon Parkin added a killer second for Darren Ferguson's men in the 71st minute, tucking away the rebound after his penalty was saved by Bennett before United winger Mark Yeates grabbed a late consolation.
Victory was no more than Preston deserved against a United side who offered precious little goal threat until the closing stages and who have now claimed just one point from four matches.
The result was a welcome tonic for Preston after two successive defeats but their opener owed much to good fortune.
Parkin did well to engineer the space down the left flank to find Danny Welbeck - another youngster on loan from Old Trafford - and he showed intelligence to find James 20 yards from goal.
The teenager struck a hopeful low right-foot shot which deflected off Nosworthy and past the stranded Bennett.
United's 18-year-old debutant Kyle Bartley, signed on a three-month loan from Arsenal, cut an assured figure at the heart of the visitors' defence.
However, the Blades were lucky to survive in the 28th minute when Parkin unleashed a right-foot shot which rebounded off the crossbar.
Moments later Welbeck hit the turf under a visiting challenge but referee Eddie Ilderton ignored the vociferous home appeals for a penalty.
Blackwell's men offered next to nothing as a creative force in the opening 45 minutes but they almost caught Preston cold within 12 seconds of the restart.
Yeates broke the offside trap and found himself with only Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan to beat.
Yeates hit a low right-foot shot which the previously unemployed Lonergan did well to deflect on to a post before the danger was cleared.
Four minutes later, Ched Evans drove a low ball across the face of goal but Richard Cresswell could not divert the ball into the net from just six yards out.
Parkin then warmed Bennett's hands from distance before Preston wrapped up the points with 19 minutes remaining.
Ross Wallace's cross was chested down by the lively Welbeck and Nosworthy clumsily shoved him in the back to prevent him taking a strike at goal.
The referee pointed straight to the spot and, though Parkin's first effort was well saved by Bennett, the big striker comfortably swept home the rebound unopposed to cap United's misery.
Yeates, arguably United's best performer, volleyed home from 10 yards with nine minutes remaining but, despite a late rally, the visitors could not force an equaliser.
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