First goals of the season from Stuart Beavon and Kevin Davies gave North End their first home win of the season.
North End were two up at the interval; Stuart Beavon awarded the first a Joel Byrom free kick clipping off the No.10 and beating Mark Oxley and then Kevin Davies converted a penalty he had won himself seven minutes before the interval.
The visitors made it a frenetic last few2 minutes when James Tarkowski headed home with seven minutes left.
Despite the dominant scoreline, the Lilywhites were lucky to find themselves that far ahead, with the visitors playing a high-tempo game that kept Declan Rudd busy between the sticks in front of the Town End.
The sign of things to come in that opening half were signalled on seven minutes when pacy winger Sidney Schmeltz cut in from the right to the edge of the box and saw a shot deflect behind for the first of eight corners in that opening 45 minutes.
On 12 minutes, North End forayed into the Latics final third for the first time and Lee Holmes was brought down on the right hand edge of box, in a similar position to which Joel Byrom scored against Walsall; Holmes though took the cross this time and another free kick was won just to the left of centre two yards outside the ‘D’
This time Joel Byrom did step up and curled it goalwards, the ball taking a deflection off Stuart Beavon – in the wall - sending the keeper the wrong way and giving the forward his first goal of the season in fortuitous circumstances.
The reaction to the goal was excellent from the side in blue. Jospeh Mills dragged shot wide after a quickly taken free kick gave Schmeltz a good chance, but his air kick allowed it to come to Mills who fired wide.
Schmeltz’ pace was a threat down the right and it got him away from David Buchanan and allowed the Belgian a chance to shoot, which was excellently saved by Rudd with a strong hand
The visitors continued to doiminate possession and pressurise North End and after three quick fire corners Schmeltz’s corner ended up being cleared off the line by a brilliant double save from Rudd, it was a reflex reaction by the keeper onto the post and away to safety.
North End finally broke the shackles with eight minutes left in the half, Beavon winning the first corner of the game for Simon Grayson’s men. This had come as Scott Laird had switched from right to left, moving into a 4-4-2 formation from 3-4-1-2.
From that corner PNE were awarded a penalty. It was won by Kevin Davies, the foul by James Wesolowski. Holmes’ corner had been headed down by Laird and Davies chased down a lost cause and was upended. Davies himself stepped up and powered the ball into the top right hand corner for his first competitive goal in a white shirt of PNE.
On 54 minutes, after weathering the storm of more Oldham pressure, North End broke and almost made it three; Davies and Beavon combining brilliantly and feeding Scott Laird on the left in acres of space, but his shot beat the keeper but also beat the right hand post. Within seconds Davies went equally as close on the opposite post after excellent link-up play with his strike partner Beavon.
Both sides made a double change either side of the mid-point in the second half; Welsh and Hayhurst North End’s introductions for Byrom and Laird.
On 73 minutes North End broke from a midfield battle again with Beavon the instigator and he was allowed space to get a shot away from 25 yards, but he dragged it just wide of the left hand post.
Oldham got back into the game with seven minutes left when James Tarkowski powered home a corner from Danny Philliskirk at the near post making for a frantic last few minutes.
Four minutes were added on by the match officials, but the Lilywhites defended it well and earned themselves a place in the top six.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Laird (Hayhurst, 71), Buchanan, Clarke, Huntington, Wright, Keane, Byrom (Welsh, 70), Holmes, Davies, Beavon (Garner, 89). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Wroe, Mousinho, Hume.
Oldham Athletic line-up: Oxley, Grounds, Wesolowski (Clarke-Harris,75), Tarkowski, Schmeltz (Montano, 65), Smith, Rooney (MacDonald, 65), Lanzoni, Dayton, Mills, Philliskirk. Subs not used: Kusunga, Mellor, Rachubka, Clarke-Harris, Rodgers.
Attendance: 10.292 (594 away fans)
Referee: Mr M Naylor