PRESTON'S appalling away record continued at Portman Road, but manager Billy Davies insisted his players weren't to blame - for the first goal at least.

Davies, who, unlike former boss Craig Brown, has made a point of avoiding criticising officials, lashed out after the men in black failed to spot Shefki Kuqi's 44th minute handball.

From that handball, the Finnish international broke into Preston's box before firing a low shot past keeper Gavin Ward.

Davies said: "That was definitely the turning point. I thought it was an appalling decision for the referee to ignore it.

"To lose a goal at that stage was crucial and we're very, very angry. Our media people have looked at it and they say it is a clear handball."

Blame for the second goal, however, lies with Preston's defence. Still reeling from conceding the first, they let Tommy Miller find the space to crash home in first half injury time.

Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu - whose loan spell from Sheffield Wednesday ends at Coventry City on Wednesday - thought he'd pulled one back for Preston in 53rd minute, but his effort was ruled off-side.

Darren Bent completed a miserable afternoon for Preston when Darren Bent smashed home an unstoppable 20-yard effort in the 72nd minute.

Kuqi had set up Ian Westlake on the left wing before the midfielder tipped the ball inside to Under-21 striker Bent.

For North End, the result means they drop back down to 13th in the league but, possibly more worrying, it means their last away league victory remains their 2-1 win over West Ham back in January.