PNE 2 Birmingham City 1
Aiden McGeady, like the previous weekend was chief tormentor again for the opener, crossing from the left for Robinson to power a header in at the front post, but Che Adam’s excellent half volley 90 seconds after the interval levelled matters.
However, a powerful run from Daryl Horgan with 12 minutes to go saw the Irishman power into the box, drilling the ball across the six yard box for Hugill to convert from close range to make it six points from six in four days.
Before the early opener Tomasz Kuszczak in the visitors goal, who was head and shoulders above anyone else as the Blues man of the match on the night, started his one man crusade to keep out the Lilywhites, who started as rampantly as they finished against Brentford.
It took a brilliant save by the City No.29 to keep it goalless on six minutes, after Ben Pearson robbed Jonathan Grounds and was in on goal; he pulled it back for Hugill on the penalty spot, who hit a vicious shot, but it was superbly saved by the former Manchester United stopper.
However, the custodian could do nothing to prevent the opener two minutes later as Robinson grabbed his ninth goal of the season with a header from McGeady’s cross from the left in the seventh minute as fans applauded the life of Sir Tom Finney, who died on the same date three years previous.
For the next 30 minutes it was all North End, but they could not get that second goal. Firstly Hugill saw a header go wide of right hand post from Robinson’s cross from the left.
Then McGeady again from the left this time found Hugill five yards out and the No.25 should have made it double figures for the season, but his effort was goes over the bar from close range.
Just before the half jour mark Kuszczak again made a superb save to tip the ball around the post, this time from Horgan from 20 yards – the stopper saw it late, but it was a wonderful stop with his fingertips from the Irishman’s curling effort.
Just before the interval the goalkeeper made yet another fine save, this time one-handed to deny Greg Cunningham on the overlap with a thunderbolt of the right boot from Aiden McGeady’s lay off.
And just after the break PNE were made to pay for not taking any of their first half opportunities to double their advantage when Adams on the half volley from the edge of the ‘D’ fired into the bottom left hand corner after a ricocheting ball.
But after a period of pressure from the visitors North End went back in front with 12 minutes left. Horgan picked up the ball from a throw in on the right, drove into the box, cut the ball across and Hugill drove it and smashed home from close range.
The goal was swiftly followed by a red card for the visitors as skipper Craig Gardner took out Cunningham with an extremely late tackle and was given his second yellow card by referee Tim Robinson.
The pace of substitute Tom Barkhuizen almost brought a third with four minutes left as he drove into the heart of the box and squared for Jordan Hugill, but a last ditch block from Grounds diverted the ball an inch wide of the left hand post with Kuszczak rooted to his six yard line, but this was the last of the action as the Lilywhites took another big win.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Browning, Cunningham, Pearson, Clarke (c), Huntington, Horgan, Browne, Robinson (Barkhuizen, 63), Hugill (Makienok, 90), McGeady (Johnson, 85). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Beckford, May, Boyle.
Birmingham City line-up: Kusczczak, Nsue, Grounds, Kieftenbeld, Gleeson (Sinclair, 89), Gardner (c), Adams, Jutkiewicz, Frei (Dacres-Cogley, 46), Bielik, Keita (Stewart, 83). Subs not used: Legzdins, Robinson, Tesche, O’Keefe.
Attendance: 10,233 (614 Birmingham City fans)
Referee: Mr T Robinson