Greg Cunningham returned to Ashton Gate to haunt his former employers with his first goal in North End colours earning the Lilywhites all three points.
The Irish international dived to head home Paul Gallagher’s corner after the second half opened up. A Nathan Baker own goal, again from a Gallagher cross gave PNE the lead, but that was short-lived as Aaron Wilbraham poked home an equaliser, but it was Simon Grayson’s men who took the win thanks to the brilliant effort from the No.3.
Ben Pearson was given his debut in a North End side that saw six changed to the team that played Peterborough United the previous weekend.
The first half saw the two sides, who had matching 3-5-2 formations seemingly blank each other out with chances few and far between.
The two shots on target both came from North End and Paul Gallagher, the first just before the half hour mark a 25 yards effort that curled just wide of left hand upright after swift passing move from the back involving Wright and Johnson.
And right on half time the No.12 let loose with another pile-driver from 30 yards, but his shot was straight at debutant keeper Richard O’Donnell in the Robins goal, who claimed at the second attempt.
And it was North End who took the lead in the 53rd minute. The ball was worked excellent down the left hand side, a back heel from Eoin Doyle sending Paul Gallagher free to cross for Joe Garner, but it was Nathan Baker whose head the ball came off powering the ball into the top left hand corner.
The lead only lasted less than three minutes. A ball into the box from a free kick brought down by Aden Flint and Bristol City skipper Aaron Wilbraham was on hand to poke home from eight yards out.
The game came to life at this point, Sam Johnstone making a brilliant save from Wilbraham just a minute later and then North End broke with Johnson clean through on goal, beating O’Donnell from 20 yards, but the ball coming back off the inside of the right hand upright and back to the on loan stopper.
The goals completely changed the game; it was now open and free flowing, compared to the cagey play of the first 45 minutes.
Johnstone was in top form again on the 70 minute mark, palming away substitute Bobby Reid’s right footed curler out of the top right hand corner.
With ten minutes left North End went ahead again. It was a brilliant corner routine as Paul Gallagher’s deep ball found the racing run of former City man Greg Cunningham who powered a diving header into the bottom left hand corner off the post for his first goal in North End colours.
Six minutes of additional time was signalled by the officials and in the fifth of them Jonathan Kodjia headed against the post from a deep corner before Johnstone followed up with another great save to deny the same man again and give North End all three points.
Bristol City line-up: O’Donnell, Little (Burns, 77), Flint, Ayling, Smith, Freeman (Reid, 56), Baker, Wilbraham (c) (Agard, 77), Pack, Kodjia, Bryan. Subs not used: O’Leary, Williams, El-Abd, Wagstaff.
PNE line-up: Johnstone, Woods (Vermijl, 89), Cunningham, Clarke (c), Huntington, Wright, Pearson (Browne, 82), Gallagher, Johnson, Garner, Doyle (Robinson, 72). Subs: Kirkland, Kilkenny, Hugill, Reach.
Attendance: 14,586 (346 away fans)
Referee: Mr J Linington