Sheffield United recorded their first win at Deepdale for 49 years, with the deciding goal coming from Scottish international forward Andy Gray after just four minutes.
The Blades' other hero was goalkeeper Paddy Kenny who saved a Graham Alexander penalty ten minutes after Gray's strike, following the dismissal of Phil Jagielka.
The goal came from a Michael Tonge corner that was headed back across goal by Leigh Bromby, for Gray to nod home from close range.
The Lilywhites looked for a quick response and Eddie Lewis had a 20-yard drive pushed away by Kenny for a corner, with Richard Cresswell seeing the Irishman keep his header out from the flag kick.
In the unlucky 13th minute Cresswell played a neat flick to David Healy, who was fouled by Jagielka in the box.
The Blades man received his marching orders, but Kenny reacted smartly to block Alexander's low spot-kick.
Preston continued to look for a leveller but their play lacked fluency and chances were few and far between - Chris Lucketti heading a Healy cross wide of goal their best before the break.
The pattern continued in the second half, with a Lewis free-kick that curled narrowly over the top a rare break from the midfield battle.
In the closing stages Ashley Ward almost extended United's lead, only for Andy Lonergan to turn his deflected effort away for a corner.
The referee added on four minutes of injury-time, but the Lilywhites were unable to take advantage and the ten-man Blades hung on for their first victory of the campaign.