Three second half goals from the Lilywhites saw them come from behind to take all three points in an entertaining Roses clash with Leeds United at Deepdale.
A Paul Gallagher penalty and headers from Sean Maguire and Alan Browne led North End to a 3-1 win over Paul Heckingbottom’s side, who had taken an early lead through Kemar Roofe.
Alex Neil had made three changes to the side that faced Reading at the weekend, with skipper Tom Clarke, Gallagher and Maguire all returning to the side and it was two of those returnees who almost put North End in front inside the opening 60 seconds.
A good team move saw the ball worked from right to left, finding Gallagher in the left hand corner of the box. His effort was pushed up in the air by a deflection off Paudie O’Connor and seemed to be dropping for Maguire at the right hand post, but young goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell did well to punch off the Irishman’s head to clear.
The opening goal came against the run of play as Kalvin Phillips found space on the right and drove a ball across the penalty area and into the six yard box where Roofe was first to the ball to poke home from just a couple of yards out with 13 minutes on the clock.
Chances came at both ends in the remainder of the first half. Mid-way through the period Gallagher saw a driven cross cleared from under the cross bar by Jay-Roy Grot and from the PNE No.12’s corner Browne flicked the ball on to the back post, but Maguire couldn’t keep down his header from six yards out and it flashed just over the bar.
There were still threats at the other end and visiting captain Pablo Hernandez collected the ball from Stuart Dallas on the edge of the ‘D’ and forced Declan Rudd into a fine low save to his right to push the ball behind for a corner.
The closest the home side came to an equaliser before the break came on 33 minutes when Tom Barkhuizen raced down the right hand side and crossed deep to find Billy Bodin, who cut inside and curled an effort beating the United ’keeper, but coming back off the left hand post.
However, the Welshman was involved as PNE drew level just into the second half. For the third time in his short career at Deepdale he won a penalty as a cross-field ball found him on the right and as he drove into the penalty area Vurnon Anita brought him down and referee Lee Probert had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Paul Gallagher quickly got the ball and using his usual back to the goal preparation, turned and fired right-footed at pace into the bottom right hand corner of the Town End goal. Peacock-Farrell went the right way, but had no chance given the power of the shot.
And the pressure became incessant from the Lilywhites after this. Two minutes later a clever corner routine saw Gallagher feed Bodin and then out to Browne 25 yards out, who curled an effort towards the top right hand corner, only for the Leeds stopper to tip the ball over the bar.
But seconds later they were in front anyway as from the recycled ball from the resulting corner Pontus Jansson went down in the penalty area, after heading a ball with no one near him, and Gallagher whipped a delicious ball into the danger area and an alert Maguire went in bravely with the out-rushing goalkeeper and headed home, much to the delight of the vocal PNE faithful.
Peacock-Farrell was needed again on the hour mark as Barkhuizen laid off the ball for an onrushing Greg Cunningham, marauding up from left back, but the No.3’s shot was pushed over the bar two-handed by the custodian.
Up the other end Leeds were taking risks and throwing men forward and Ben Davies and Cunningham were needed to make a fine block from Caleb Ekuban, when he broke through after North End had given the ball away in the middle of the park and then with 13 minutes to go Rudd made a fine double save firstly to deny substitute Samuel Saiz, who had broken from the left and then Ronaldo Vieira’s long distance effort from the resulting corner.
The two goalkeepers were in fine form and North End’s own substitute Callum Robinson forced a superb stop from Bailey Peacock-Farrell into the final ten minutes when he fired from 20 yards after some superb one-touch build-up play involving fellow second half introduction Josh Harrop and Maguire.
But the game was tied up with eight minutes left, with Robinson again involved, breaking down the left hand side of the penalty area before delivering an excellent left foot cross to Alan Browne eight yards out, whose brave flick header flew into the top right hand corner and gave his side the win they deserved.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Clarke (c), Cunningham, Pearson, Huntington, Davies, Bodin (Horgan, 84), Gallagher (Harrop, 67), Maguire, Browne, Barkhuizen (Robinson, 76). Subs not used: Maxwell, Woods, Moult, Earl.
Leeds United line-up: Peacock-Farrell, Roofe (Saiz, 68), Anita, Grot (Alioski, 68), Dallas, Jansson (Diaz, 57), Hernandez (c), Phillips, Vieira, O’Connor, Ekuban. Subs not used: Lonergan, Lasogga, Nicell, Pearce.
Attendance: 14,188 (3,550 Leeds United fans)
Referee: Mr L Probert