Callum Robinson grabbed the only goal as North End returned to winning ways downing the league leaders 1-0 at Ashton Gate.
Robinson grabbed his fifth goal in a North End shirt – all of them away from home – just before the half hour mark, firing home from close range from Chris Humphrey’s right wing cross.
Manager Simon Grayson made three changes to the side that lost its long unbeaten home record the previous week, with Scott Wiseman returning after international duty with Gibraltar, John Welsh in for the injured Alan Browne in midfield and the big surprise seeing a change in goal, with Thorsten Stuckmann in for Jamie Jones between the sticks.
The yellows started the game brightly, playing towards the empty end, with a new stand set for construction and on eight minutes a great flick on from Joe Garner found Humphrey who the ball drilled across, but a Robins defender sliced away to safety.
Immediately on the counter came the home side’s first real chance, Luke Freeman freeing Aaron Wilbraham who rounded Stuckmann but fired wide with the goal gaping – a glaring miss from Steve Cotterill’s top scorer.
Twelve minutes in and on loan front man Robinson put over a deep cross from the left hand touchline, Garner rose highest, but headed straight at Frank Fielding in the Bristol goal.
Just before the quarter hour mark there was a chance at both ends – firstly former Yeovil Town man Luke Ayling sidefooted wide unmarked at the back post after Freeman’s cross from the left and then John Welsh picked up a ball ten yards outside the box and danced past three tackles before being brought down as he was about to be free on goal, but referee Roger East shook his head leaving the Scouser in disbelief.
On 19 minutes Paul Huntington thought he had scored when a header from former Bristol man Neil Kilkenny’s corner was cleared off the line by Fielding – a great save out of top left hand corner.
But the deadlock was broken on 28 minutes. It was a great break from North End. Kilkenny had the ball in his own half and set off Garner down the right hand side. He in turn played in Humphrey who flew past the full back and delivered into the no man’s land between the defence and goalkeeper and Callum Robinson rushed onto it at the back post and fired into the empty net from six yards out.
With six minutes of the half left there was a great chance to double the lead; Humphrey was played wide right by Gallagher, he made a great deep cross to Garner who turned inside and instead of shooting he squared to Robinson, but he scuffed his low shot straight at Fielding.
North End were forced into a change at the break, Joe Garner replaced by Kevin Davies – the top scorer having taken a few whacks in the first half.
The home side, as expected, started the second half in the ascendency and Paul Huntington made a fine strong challenge to deny Kieran Agard a strike on goal six minutes into the half.
After a period of intense pressure and half a dozen corners for the home side a header from Aden Flint from Luke Freeman’s corner was a whisker over the cross bar 20 minutes into the second period.
The next great chance fell to Davies as Callum Robinson was sent down the left by John Welsh and cleverly pulled the ball back to the No.9 on the penalty spot, but his low effort was claimed to his left by Fielding.
The home side won a corner in the first minute of stoppage time and sent keeper Frank Fielding forward. The first was headed over and the second cleared and North End held on to return to winning ways.
Bristol City line-up: Fielding, Little (Kane, 70), Williams, Flint, Smith, Freeman (Emmanuel-Thomas, 70), Wilbraham (c), Agard, Pack (B Reid, 85), Ayling, Bryan. Subs not used: Richards, El-Abd, Wagstaff, Cunningham.
PNE line-up: Stuckmann, Wiseman, Buchanan, Kilkenny, Clarke (c), Huntington, Humphrey (King, 74), Welsh, Garner (K Davies, 46), Gallagher, Robinson. Subs not used: Jones, Laird, Beckford, K Reid, Brownhill.
Attendance: 13,245 (904 away fans)
Referee: Mr R East