A goal from Albert Adomah just after the half hour mark was enough to give Middlesbrough all three points at the Riverside.
He slid home from close range after a ball in from George Friend and the home side held on thanks to goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos who kept out a piledriver from Marnick Vermijl mid-way through the second half.
North End had made five changes to the defeat from Fulham, three of them enforced by injury and another by Adam Reach’s eligibility, meaning Doyle and Robinson joined Johnson, Huntington and Vermijl in the starting line-up.
The first half hour was a tight affair. PNE should have a free kick right on the edge of the box after ten minutes when Joe Garner was fouled after good pressure play, but referee Oliver Langford somehow gave it the other way!
At the mid-point of the half Garner then dragged a shot across goal from the edge of the box after a long clearance was brought down by Doyle and laid off for Garner to shoot.
The home side’s first real chance came when a ball came loose in the box from a right wing cross and former North End favourite David Nugent was foiled by a block in the six yard box by Bailey Wright.
But the opening goal came on 32 minutes when Albert Adomah slid home from close range after flicking the ball around Bailey Wright in the box following George Friend’s ball in from the left.
Right on half-time Nugent was sent clean through by an excellent ball by Gaston Ramirez; he got into the box, beat Bailey Wright, but Anders Lindegaard made a fine save to deny him, diving away to his right.
Six minutes after the break a gilt-edged chance fell to Paul Huntington as a ball into the box from Gallagher got headed up into the air and fell to the No.23 just a few yards from goal, but his header was wide of the left hand post with Konstantopoulos stranded.
Just after the hour mark North End could and perhaps should have been level when Huntington headed down Gallagher’s ball into the box and Doyle and substitute John Welsh both came in on a shot that was goalbound until George Friend made a goal line clearance.
On 66 minutes Konstantopoulos made an outstanding stop to deny Vermijl from 20 yards after a vicious strike from Gallagher’s lay back as the yellows forced the home side deep back into their penalty area with a spell of pressure.
As the game entered the final ten minutes it was a much more open affair than the first hour. Albert Adomah hit the post from ten yards out in a rare Boro opening, but it was North End who were doing the pressing, with the home crowd getting more and more nervous.
Five minutes of added time was signalled, no less than should have been after another half of time-wasting tactics from an opposition team, but the home side managed to run down the clock and take all three points.
Middlesbrough line-up: Konstantopoulos, Friend, Ayala, Gibson, Leadbitter (c), Stuani (Downing, 63), Ramirez (Clayton, 69), Nsue, Adomah, Forshaw, Nugent. Subs not used: Agazzi, De Laet, Rhodes, De Sart, Kalas.
PNE line-up: Lindegaard, Vermijl, Cunningham, Pearson (Welsh, 62), Clarke (c), Wright, Robinson (Beckford, 62), Johnson, Garner, Doyle, Johnson. Subs not used: Kirkland, Kilkenny, Browne, Smith.
Attendance: 26,390 (771 away fans)
Referee: Mr O Langford