Swansea City's promotion push suffered a set-back at Deepdale as an Iain Hume double gave Preston a deserved victory in their late quest to escape the drop.
Despite a first-half equaliser from Ashley Williams, Swansea never looked like promotion contenders as attention now turns to the crucial double header at the Liberty Stadium against Norwich and Hull.
Swans boss Brendan Rodgers made two changes for their crucial game at Deepdale.
Stephen Dobbie failed to travel after suffering a back spasm in the week and his place in midfield was taken by Darren Pratley.
Angel Rangel had also been hit with a stomach bug in the week and didn't train until Friday.
But with skipper Garry Monk fit again following a knee injury, he started his first game in 11 weeks alongside Ashley Williams in the heart of the defence.
New signing Tama Priskin made the bench after teaming up with the Swans on Friday following his loan move from Ipswich.
It meant the versatile Alan Tate
switched to right-back instead of Rangel.
They faced a Preston side rooted to the foot of the Championship table, but rejuvenated under new boss Phil Brown after two straight victories.
Brown gave a debut to defender Bongani Khumalo following the South African international's arrival on loan from Tottenham.
But Sean St Ledger missed out after suffering a knee injury while training with the Republic of Ireland squad last week.
Preston: Iain Turner, Craig Morgan, Bongani Khumalo, Barry Nicholson, Keith Treacy, Iain Hume, Billy Jones ©, Ian Ashbee, Eddie Johnson, Ricardo Gardner, Darren Carter. Subs: Andrew Lonergan, Paul Coutts, Paul Hayes, Adam Barton, Paul Parry, Nathan Ellington, Bailey Wright.
Swansea: Dorus de Vries, Alan Tate
, Neil Taylor, Garry Monk ©, Ashley Williams, Joe Allen, Mark Gower, Darren Pratley, Nathan Dyer, Fabio Borini, Scott Sinclair. Subs: Andrea Orlandi, Cedric van der Gun, Luke Moore, Angel Rangel, Yves Ma-Kalambay, Tamas Priskin, Leon Britton.
Ref: D Foster
The match got underway with a large Swans following behind Dorus de Vries' goal backing the boys in their pursuit of the three points.
But they were soon silenced as the Swans were sloppy at the back to allow skipper Billy Jones in behind after just two minutes. De Vries came out of his goal and Jones went down as the referee pointed straight to the spot.
Ian Hume stepped up and fired in off the post to give Preston the lead as de Vries was also booked for his troubles.
The goal stunned Swansea who took time to settle before Darren Pratley fired a 25-yard effort just wide with seven minutes gone.
But Swansea were sloppy again minutes later as Eddie Johnson got in behind Neil Taylor again, but de Vries managed to get a hand to his shot as Preston should have taken a 2-0 leads.
Fabio Borini looked lively at the other end as he fired over, before Swansea were again opened up at the back as Keith Treacy raced through the middle onto a long through ball. But Treacy blazed over with just de Vries to beat with 15 minutes gone.
After a lethargic start, Swansea finally started to get their game together with 24 minutes gone as Nathan Dyer got on the ball.
And it was Dyer who earned the free kick from Ricardo Gardner on the touchline that saw the Swans grab the equaliser.
Mark Gower delivered the free-kick to the far post where Scott Sinclair knocked it back in. Borini's shot was blocked, but as the ball sat up, Ashley Williams headed the rebound home.
The goal changed the game as Swansea stepped it up a gear and Preston found themselves on the back foot for the first time as their heads dropped slightly.
Darren Pratley won a corner with 30 minutes gone, but Garry Monk's header from Gower's delivery dropped over the bar.
But Preston regrouped and slowly came back and the visitors had the crossbar to thank after a 25-yard shot from Darren Carter.
And the home side nearly snatched the lead again on the stroke of half-time as Alan Tate
lost the ball to Treacy at the expense of a corner. Iain Hume delivered it and Ian Ashbee headed just wide of the far post.
Half-time: Preston 1 Swans 1
There were no changes for the start of the second-half as the Swans nearly made the perfect start as Gower curled a free-kick over the wall and against the bar with goalkeeper Iain Turner beaten.
Preston responded immediately and certainly weren't playing like a side rooted to the bottom of the table as de Vries was forced to pull off a reaction save from Ashbee. As the ball dropped, the Dutch keeper somehow managed to save from Barry Nicholson as he sat on his backside on the line.
With 32 minutes remaining, Preston made their first change with the game still wide open as Nathan Ellington replaced Eddie Johnson.
Brendan Rodgers responded in the 63rd minute with Leon Britton and Tamas Priskin replacing Allen and Dyer.
Four minutes later and Swansea nearly snatched the lead when Pratley won a free-kick 28 yards out. As the Preston defence waited for the cross, Gower fired a low shot which Turner just managed to save before blocking Borini's follow up on the line.
Swansea's final substitution came in the 72nd minute as Andrea Orlandi replaced Gower, while Adam Barton came on for Carter.
This was anyone's to win as Sinclair cut in before forcing a good save from Turner, before Orlandi had to be on his game to block Iain Hume's effort at the expense of a corner which Swansea eventually cleared at the second attempt.
Monk had to produce a great header to deny the lively Hume with 13 minutes remaining before the striker fired another effort just wide as Swansea's inability to keep possession allowed Preston to apply the pressure.
And disaster struck with eight minutes remaining as Iain Hume waltzed his way clean through the Swansea defence before firing a shot under de Vries to give Preston a 2-1 lead.