Three second half goals gave the Lilywhites another valuable three points against ten man Bradford City at Valley Parade on Easter Monday.
Christopher Routis was sent off for a professional foul on Joe Garner just 14 minutes in, but all the goals came after the interval. Paul Gallagher fired home from close range after his initial penalty had been saved by Ben Williams, following a foul in the box by Jermaine Beckford 19 seconds after the break.
Daniel Johnson then scored his seventh goal in a Preston shirt with a superb curling effort into the top left corner, before a 25 yards half volley from Chris Humphrey took a slight deflection lifting it over Williams to cap off a superb performance
Paul Huntington returned from injury and went straight into a back three for the Lilywhites, with Chris Humphrey coming into the side on the right; Calum Woods and Callum Robinson the two to miss out.
After a slow start the game exploded to life just before the quarter hour mark as a Bailey Wright header turned the Bradford back line and Joe Garner was sent clean through on goal. Christopher Routis hauled the 21-goal front man to the ground 25 yards out and referee Mark Heywood had no hesitation in sending him straight off.
From resulting free kick Paul Gallagher saw an effort on target, but ben Williams in the City goal claimed the ball.
The half was devoid of chances until the final five minutes of the half when both sides could conceivably gone ahead. Firstly Joe Garner fired wide after a superb one touch passing move. Daniel Johnson won the ball in his own half, he broke up to Garner, the ball came back to the No.23 and then back to Garner again, before the striker curled just wide of the right hand post from 15 yards out.
Then in the half’s final minute Jon Stead was sent clean through on goal after a short back pass, but keeper Sam Johnstone denied the on loan front man one on one superbly staying big and then holding the ball as well.
The second half started with an explosion. Jermaine Beckford was in on goal until Gary Liddle brough him down in the box just 19 seconds into the period. Paul Gallagher stepped up to take the penalty, but Ben Williams saved it, only for it to come back to Gallagher who slammed home from five yards out in front of the packed away end.
And it was two just six minutes later. Great play from the back by half-time substitute Jack King; who played a clever reverse ball into Daniel Johnson on the edge of the box; the ball ricocheted off Paul Gallagher and back to Johnson who caressed the ball beautifully into the top left hand corner from 15 yards out – an exquisite finish.
Just after the hour mark Ben Williams was at full stretch to deny North End a third. They held the ball for what seemed like an age before Kilkenny swung in a ball from the right and Beckford powered a header towards the top corner, Williams at full stretch palming it away with a strong hand.
With 19 minutes left the home side were given a free kick right on the edge of the North End box giving substitute Mark Yeates a chance to shoot; but the wall did well to block the effort that was heading goalwards.
With 11 minutes left Billy Clarke tried an audacious 50 yard effort that Sam Johnstone had to be at the top of his game to tip round the post, as it was heading for the top left hand corner, but it was North End who grabbed the third goal of the game.
A long ball up from Johnstone was well-cushioned down by Joe Garner to Chris Humphrey who hit a superb dipping half volley that took a slight deflection off James Meredith, up and over Williams and into the goal.
Johnstone again was in fine form to save a Bradford header from a left wing corner after the ball had been given away sloppily on the right hand side by the Lilywhites.
Three minutes were added on, with the home side having to play with nine men after Mark Yeates dislocated his shoulder in the final minute, but it was North End who ended the game on the attack, Garner seeing a shot deflected, but it remained 3-0.
Bradford City line-up: Williams, Darby (c), Meredith, Liddle (Dolan, 78), Hanson, B Clarke, Knott, Stead (Yeates, 65), Routis, Morais (Mottley-Henry, 79), McArdle. Subs not used: Urwin, Zoko, McMahon, Webb-Foster.
PNE line-up: Johnstone, Humphrey (Little, 85), Laird, Clarke (c), Wright, Huntington (Kilkenny, 46), Welsh (King, 46), Johnson, Gallagher, Garner, Beckford. Subs: Stuckmann, Kilkenny, K Davies, Woods, King, Robinson.
Attendance: 16,032 (2,212 away fans)
Referee: Mr M Heywood