PNE 5 Bristol City 0
Tom Barkhuizen, an Aiden McGeady penalty, Tom Clarke and a brace from Callum Robinson gave them a 5-0 win to boost their Play-Off hopes.
Barkhuizen celebrated his March player of the month nomination with his sixth goal in as many games, 25 minutes into the first half, from McGeady’s ninth assist of the season.
And then the birthday boy converted from the penalty spot two minutes into the second half after Robinson had been upended by Aden Flint. It was three just nine minutes after the break as Clarke powered home Paul Gallagher’s inch perfect cross from the right.
Robinson then made it four from Barkhuizen’s superb run and pass as the Lilywhites ran riot in the opening 20 minutes, before he made it five, slamming home from close range from McGeady’s ball in from the right.
There was another blistering start to the game and Jordan Hugill was sent clean through two minutes in, running onto Ben Pearson’s through ball, but the No.25 fired over from a tight angle.
With five minutes gone Gallagher powered in an effort from 25 yards, towards the bottom left corner and Frank Fielding was at full stretch to turn the ball around the post.
McGeady was celebrating his 31st birthday and looked like he was wanted to do it in style. He was set up by Robinson – one of two changes to the side, he and Alex Baptiste in for Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle. The No.37 had the ball on the byline, but pulled it back for the Irishman only for former PNE man Bailey Wright to make brilliant last ditch block to concede a corner.
However, McGeady was involved in the opener, as this time it was he who got to the left hand byline, before pulling the ball back to where Barkhuizen swept the ball home with his left foot to keep his astonishing run of form in front of goal going.
Chris Maxwell was needed just before the half hour mark, making a stunning save to deny Wright; diving low to his left after the City man created space for himself on the edge of the box and hit a low shot towards the bottom corner until a scooped stop from the keeper.
The second half was alive in 23 seconds as Callum Robinson was played in by McGeady and brought down in the box by Flint and the birthday boy stepped up and slammed his seventh goal of the season into the top left hand corner of the goal.
And it was three on 54 minutes. Gallagher, who had been superb all night, was brought down on the right and delivered a brilliant cross with pace onto skipper Clarke’s head and he powered the ball into the top right hand corner from ten yards out.
Former Red Robinson was next up and he owed it all to Barkhuizen. Gallagher played another superb ball to send the flying No.29 down the right hand side and he got clean away before driving to the edge of the box, sliding the ball across to his on-rushing fellow striker, who slid in from close range against his former club.
The same man made it five just four minutes later, slamming home from close range after another brilliant ball in from McGeady on the right, after Gallagher’s quickly taken corner.
McGeady’s last action in the 71st minute was an unbelievable effort from 30 yards that was going into the top right hand corner until Fielding made a stunning stop to tip the ball over the bar, with his reverse hand – it had to be seen to be believed.
It would have been the icing on the cake, but in the end the Lilywhites and the boisterous home support had to settle for five.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Clarke (c), Cunningham, Pearson (Johnson, 71), Baptiste, Huntington, Barkhuizen (Beckford, 79), Robinson, Hugill, McGeady (Horgan, 71). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Browne, Makienok, Boyle.
Bristol City: Fielding, Bryan, Flint, Smith (c), Abraham, Tomlin, O’Dowda (Wilbraham, 57), Pack (Magnusson, 57), Hegeler (Brownhill, 73), Cotterill, Wright. Subs not used: Giefer, Taylor, Reid, Paterson.
Attendance: 10,224 (312 Bristol City fans)
Referee: Mr A Madley