PNE 3 Huddersfield Town 1
The Lilywhites were two up at the break with both goals coming from defenders, Tom Clarke and Alex Baptiste converting superb Paul Gallagher crosses, the first from the left and the second from the right.
Gallagher then made it three himself shortly after half-time with a free kick from out on the right that went through a crowd of players and directly in, before substitute Nahki Wells pulled a goal back with nine minutes left to make for a nervy ending, but the Lilywhites rode the storm to make it six games unbeaten and extend the visitors’ winless run at Deepdale to 15 games.
Gallagher had been one of four changes from the side that collected a point at Brighton the previous weekend, Bailey Wright and Greg Cunningham returning to the back four and Ben Pringle operating on the opposite flank to Gallagher.
And it didn’t take long for the game to come to life. Callum Robinson was upended 15 yards inside the Terriers’ half in a left hand channel and Gallagher stepped up to drill a cross in with his right foot and former Huddersfield man Clarke rose in the box to flick a header from 12 yards out past Danny Ward.
There was no celebration for the man who spent many years at the John Smith’s Stadium, but nonetheless there was plenty from the fans.
The visitors were being restricted to long shots from distance, but Clarke, Baptiste and Wright put their bodies on the line on more than one occasion to get in the way of efforts from Payne, Lowe and Scannell.
And the busier keeper was still Welshman Danny Ward, who on 23 minutes got up superbly to tip a header from Jordan Hugill over the bar from another Gallagher free kick on the right wing. From the corner that resulted from the save in there was panic in the box and eventually Clarke’s shot was well saved by Ward, collecting at the second attempt at the feet of Pearson.
But the West Yorkshire side’s No.1 was picking the ball out of the net again three minutes before the break when Gallagher whipped yet another cross from the right again and this time Baptiste rose highest in the box and powered a header into the top right hand corner from 15 yards out – a bullet of an effort for his first goal at Deepdale.
To create the opening it was a great free kick on half way from Gallagher who played it forward to Daniel Johnson just outside the right corner of the box, who then in turn laid it back to the No.12 to get real whip on the cross for the right back to meet at the back post.
And if he was creator for the first two he was scorer for the third. Jordan Hugill won a free kick out near the right hand touchline and Paul Gallagher set up for another cross and this time it flashed all the way through the box and flew into the right hand inside side netting.
But with nine minutes to go the visitors grabbed a lifeline as a free kick from the right was put over to the back post and Jack Payne headed back across goal for Nahki Wells to poke home from close range.
This led to a nervy few minutes, but Simon Grayson’s men managed the closing stages well to add to their excellent run of results against the league’s top teams.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Baptiste, Cunningham, Pearson, Clarke (c), Wright, Gallagher (Humphrey, 76), Johnson, Robinson, Hugill (Makienok, 90), Pringle (Doyle, 87). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Browne, Spurr, Huntington.
Huddersfield Town line-up: Ward, Smith, Hudson (c), Hogg, Scannell (Palmer, 67), Kachunga (Wells, 46), Mooy, Lowe, Payne, van La Parra (Bunn, 46), Schindler. Subs not used: Coleman, Whitehead, Cranie, Hefele.
Attendance: 12,862 (2,840 Huddersfield Town fans)
Referee: Mr J Simpson