Kevin Davies grabbed his 150th career goal to give the Lilywhites all three points against a resilient Coventry City at Deepdale.
Davies headed home Paul Gallagher’s pin-point cross with 22 minutes gone to give the Lilywhites the lead.
Joe Garner also returned to home action for the final 25 minutes, but North End were made to sweat on the win, a John Fleck injury-time effort coming back off the bar much to the Lilywhites’ relief.
The game was a slow affair in the opening half, North End forced into an early change, Josh Brownhill replacing the injured Calum Woods just 18 minutes in, Scott Laird dropping into the left back slot that Woods had retained after a good display at Sheffield United.
The first real action of the game came just before the mid-point and it was the opener.
A misplaced pass in the middle of the park by skipper Tom Clarke was miss-controlled by former PNE midfielder Adam Barton and it ran through to Paul Gallagher on the left. The No.12 checked back onto the right foot and floated over a perfect ball for Kevgin Davies to rise highest on the penalty spot and lift the ball over Lee Burge and into the back of the empty net.
The reaction from the swelled home crowd was fantastic for the former England man, as he made is 150 career goals against the same side he made it 149 the previous January.
North End were then on the front foot, with Gallagher pulling the strings. Firstly he put over a driven cross from the left that Humphrey volleyed over.
Then Burge made an outstanding save to deny Davies his 151st. Again a Gallagher ball in saw substitute Josh Brownhill flick the ball on and Davies’ instinctive header was heading towards the into top corner until Burge’s brilliant out-stretched hand tipped the ball wide for a corner.
On the stroke of half-time Gallagher yet again delivered an excellent corner and it was headed goalwards by Brownhill, but once again Burge tipped over the bar.
The second half was much like the first, but 12 minutes in the Lilywhites received a wake-up call as Luke Williams got free on the right and crossed for Frank Nouble, but his effort from only six yards out was luckily over the bar, when he really should have scored.
With 13 minutes to go Sam Johnstone was called into action palming away an effort from Adam Barton on the half volley 25 yards out and a corner followed.
Joe Garner returned with over 20 minutes to go and looked his menacing self in and around the visitors’ 18 yard box.
Four minutes was added on and in the third minute it was like déjà vu as John Fleck picked up the ball 30 yards and fired a bullet of a strike that flew towards goal but smashed against the corner of the post and bar and ricocheted away to safety and North End took the points.
PNE line-up: Johnstone, Wiseman, Woods (Brownhill, 18), Kilkenny (Garner, 67), Clarke (c), Huntington, Humphrey, Johnson, K Davies, Gallagher (Welsh, 67), Laird. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Wright, Reid, Ebanks-Blake.
Coventry City line-up: Burge, Willis, Webster (G Thomas, 83), Fleck, Williams, O’Brien (c), Samuel, Barton, Nouble (Tudgay, 62), Martin, Pennington. Subs not used: Charles-Cook, C Thomas, Jackson, Turgott, Haynes.
Attendance: 13,363 (629 away fans)
Referee: Mr M Brown