Two goals in each half gave North End a thumping 4-0 win over managerless Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park.
Paul Huntington opened the scoring after only 72 seconds with a powerful header from Paul Gallagher’s corner, before a thunderbolt from Daniel Johnson made it two at the break.
Joe Garner’s 15th of the season, a close range header, was added to by the returning Jermain Beckford in the final ten minutes for a rampant North End who made it five straight wins in the league.
Manager Simon Grayson was forced into one change with Tom Clarke not available; Scott Wiseman replacing him at right back, with Jermain Beckford included on the bench.
The Lilywhites came out of the blocks like Usain Bolt and had a corner within 13 seconds and were ahead after only 72!
The first corner was cleared but the second from the boot of Paul Gallagher was played deep and in form Paul Huntington powered a header into top left corner of Jake Kean’s goal, his eighth of the season.
Chris Humphrey was close to making it two on 14 minutes, smashing a vicious right-footed shot from right hand corner off box off the cross bar after Callum Robinson drove at Oldham defence and played across the edge of the box.
Shortly after top scorer Joe Garner was through on goal from ball in from the left, but the No.14 couldn’t get it under control when in space and the ball drifted through to Kean.
However, it was two just after the half hour mark. Skipper John Welsh played a very wide ball out to the left, but Scott Laird worked hard to recover. He then played a long ball forward to Garner who laid it off for Daniel Johnson, who jinked inside a centre half and unleashes a powerful left foot shot from 20 yards over and past Jake Kean into the middle of the goal to make it three in three, this latest one against the club je spent a month on loan at before the new year.
It took until the second minute of stoppage time for the home side to have their first shot of the game. Dominic Poleon’s effort well-blocked by Laird after the ball had been spread wide from the middle out to the right hand corner of the box.
And the Lilywhites made it three within seven minutes of the restart. A deep ball from the middle of the Oldham half into the left hand corner by Daniel Johnson sent Callum Robinson chasing into the corner. He worked hard whilst Kusunga left it and the on loan man collected it and whipped a ball that found Jake Kean stranded at the front post allowing Joe Garner to nod home from close range at the back post for his 15th of the season.
By the hour mark North End were pressing the Latics into their own penalty area and Robinson forced Kean into a smart save before the rebound came to Gallagher, who tried to scoop it to an unmarked Johnson, but couldn’t wrap his left foot around it.
North End pushed for more and Neil Kilkenny was denied by Connor Brown with ten minutes left after Callum Robinson’s driving run and shot was well saved by Jake Kean and then from the resulting corner Scott Laird headed Daniel Johnson’s cross just wide of the left hand post.
But it was four with eight minutes left as a new front three combined. Callum Robinson worked his socks off to race down the left and keen a deep ball in and then substitutes Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Jermaine Beckford combined. The former beat Kean to the ball, took it away from the keeper and pulled it across to the penalty spot to where Beckford hit a first time left footed shot into the bottom left hand corner of the empty net to finish the scoring.
PNE line-up: Johnstone, Wiseman, Laird, Welsh (c), Wright, Huntington, Humphrey (Ebanks-Blake, 79), Johnson, Garner (Beckford, 71), Robinson, Gallagher (Kilkenny, 70). Subs not used: Stuckmann, K Davies, Woods, Reid.
Oldham Athletic: Kean, Brown, Dieng, Kelly (c), Jones, Philliskirk, J Wilson, B Wilson (Jacobs, 46), Kusunga, Poleon, Murphy (Turner, 69). Subs not used: Coleman, Lockwood, Truelove, Bove, Touhy.
Referee: Mr M Haywood
Attendance: 5,935 (2,117 away fans)