A goal in each half from Daniel Johnson and Jermaine Beckford gave the Lilywhites another big win in their hunt for automatic promotion, defeating Peterborough United 2-0 at Deepdale.
Johnson collected Joe Garner’s lay off to cut in from the right and curl a left-footed shot into the bottom left hand corner to give Simon Grayson’s men a half-time advantage.
And then Beckford turned home Paul Gallagher’s driven cross from three yards out with nine minutes left to earn another victory against a hard-working and in-form opponent.
It was same again for manager Simon Grayson, just making a minor alteration bringing in Kyel Reid for Andy Little on the bench.
The Lilywhites started on the front foot with Posh defender Gaby Zakuani deflecting Callum Robinson’s goal-bound hooked effort wide of the left hand post.
It was end to end though and for the visitors Joe Newell fired from 25 yards only inches wide of right hand post after short clearance.
As the game wore on the Lilywhites began to create more and a Robinson cross from left, was headed goalwards by Jermaine Beckford, but his on target attempt was well saved by Ben Alnwick.
On 34 minutes a Paul Gallagher shot was blocked in the box by Kgosi Nlthe – there were big shouts for handball after Garner’s cross from left to the man making his record-breaking 100th on loan appearance for the Lilywhites, but referee Geoff Eltringham saw nothing.
But the deadlock was broken three minutes later. A quick throw in from right saw Joe Garner lay the ball off to Daniel Johnson who drove towards the box before curling a left foot shot beyond Alnwick into the bottom left hand corner of the Town End goal.
The same man almost made it two with five minutes left in the half, the No.24 again taking a shot from a very similar area to where the goal came from, this time through a crowd of players, but Alnwick got behind it when a touch off any of the players it went through could have brought a second.
Before the break Jermaine Beckford saw a shot deflected shot for a corner after exchanging a one-two with Robinson 20 yards from goal in a slick move from the Lilywhites, but at the interval it remained one.
Ten minutes into the second period a brilliantly worked low corner from Gallagher found an unmarked Robinson at the back post, but he dragged his low right foot shot just wide of Alnwick’s left hand post.
A flurry of chances fell the way of the Lilywhites around the hour mark, the last of which saw Paul Gallagher curl an effort just wide of the right hand post after Johnson’s corner had flown through everyone to the back of the Posh penalty area.
With a quarter of an hour left Callum Robinson stung the gloves to Alnwick, who just managed to push his 25 yards effort over the bar for a corner.
Sam Johnstone’s first action of the night was a superb strong hand to deny Jon Taylor who’d beaten two men and driven a shot from the left hand side.
But it was two to Simon Grayson’s men with nine men left. Daniel Johnson won the ball in his own half and beat three men with a lovely turn, before sliding the ball forward to Gallagher. He did superbly and drove into the box all the way to the byline before slamming the ball across to Jermaine Beckford who superbly turned home from three yards out and the Lilywhites played out the closing stages comfortably to record another vital win.
PNE line-up: Johnstone, Clarke (c), Laird, Welsh, Wright, Huntington, Robinson (Woods, 90), Johnson, Garner (K Davies, 79), Beckford (Humphrey, 86), Gallagher. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Kilkenny, Little, Ebanks-Blake.
Peterborough United line-up: Alnwick, Smith, Nlthe, Bostwick (Norris, 72), Taylor, Payne (c), James, Washington (Vassell, 54), Newell, Santos, Zakuani. Subs not used: Henry, Brisley, Burgess, Anderson, Beautyman.
Attendance: 8,856 (204 away fans)
Referee: Mr G Eltringham