Michael Hector scored for Sheffield Wednesday as Ben Pearson was controversially sent off in the first half at Hillsborough.
The North End No.4 caught Marco Mathias with his trailing leg after a clean challenge in the middle of the pitch, but referee David Coote adjudged it worthy of a straight red card.
Hector then scored the only goal, meeting a cross from Josh Onomah just after the hour mark as the Owls took the points in the rain in South Yorkshire.
Manager Alex Neil welcomed back Louis Moult from injury, but lost skipper Tom Clarke through illness, Darnell Fisher taking his place in the starting XI.
And it was the yellow-clad visitors who started the game the brighter, an early second-minute chance for Lukas Nmecha to play in stand-in skipper Paul Gallagher in space in the box, but the on loan went with the shot, straight at Keiren Westwood, returning after a year in the cold for the Owls.
But the game was changed completely in the 26th minutes as match official Coote made the decision to send off Pearson who clearly got the ball in a tackle on Mathias. His left trailing leg catching the winger, but it was impossible not to with his momentum.
With North End down to ten men Lee Bullen’s side had two good chances to take the lead before the interval. Firstly on 34 minutes a superb Declan Rudd save to denied Steven Fletcher from a header- via a deflection off Ben Davies - which was tipped out of the top right corner.
Then three minutes before the break Lucas Joao also got in a header from Reach’s right-wing cross that came back off the left-hand post.
Moments later the North End fans and players were astounded when Gallagher was caught late by Fletcher, exactly the same as Pearson’s earlier tackle, although the Scottish striker didn’t get the ball, PNE’s No.12 caught on his ankle – if Pearson’s was a red card, so was this, but referee Coote did nothing.
To make matters worse, in the opening minutes of the second half Moult left the field with an injury, with Alan Browne on to replace the North End attacker.
Just after the hour mark another fine Rudd save denied Matias, whose drilled low shot was pushed behind from Fletcher’s knock down, but from the resulting corner Spurs loanee Onomah delivered and Hector headed into the bottom right hand corner, with Rudd having no chance on this occasion.
North End had a chance to equalise just two minutes later as Nmecha found Fisher in the right corner of the box and he clipped a cross to Barkhuizen, but the forward could not quite get the ball on target.
A Gallagher corner shortly after was headed on target by Browne, but deflected over by Fletcher as the yellows searched for an equaliser.
Graham Burke and Ryan Ledson came on and the former delivered a right-wing free kick after a foul on Fisher as PNE continued to press in search of a leveller, but despite late pressure and even Declan Rudd joining the attack for a corner, they couldn't force the goal.
Sheffield Wednesday line-up: Westwood, Palmer, Fox, Onomah (Hutchinson, 81), Pelupessy, Fletcher (Nuhui, 80), Lees (c), Joao, Matias, Reach, Hector. Subs not used: Dawson, Thorniley, Boyd, Baker, Pudil.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Hughes, Pearson, Huntington, Davies, Nmecha (Ledson, 74), Gallagher (c) (Burke, 79), Moult (Browne, 48), Johnson, Barkhuizen. Subs not used: Maxwell, Storey, Woods, Walker.
Attendance: 22,366 (589 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr D Coote