Tom Barkhuizen got off the mark in pre-season, scoring a first half hat-trick, as North End made it 18 goals in three pre-season games with a 5-0 win over Cobh Ramblers.
Skipper Tom Clarke was also on the score sheet, along with Irishman Graham Burke – on his return to his homeland – as the Lilywhites recorded a comfortable victory at Turner’s Cross, the home of Cork City.
Barkhuizen scored two from the edge of the box, before Clarke headed home a third and then the PNE No.29 completed his treble by closing down the host side’s goalkeeper to make it 4-0 at the interval.
Burke scored an excellent free kick with seven minutes to go, to make it a good night for the green-clad side in front of a vocal following support, who had travelled across for the game.
It took only five minutes for the opening goal to arrive, as Barkhuizen collected the ball on left, drove inside to the edge of the box and fired a hard low effort into the corner of keeper Adam Mylod’s goal.
And the same man repeated the act with a similar second on 17 minutes. This time he picked the ball up about 45 yards out, drove forward, taking advantage of a ricochet before connecting right footed and directing the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
The third came on 39 minutes, as the visitors recycled a corner well, finding Billy Bodin, who crossed deep to the back post to where Clarke rose highest to head down and in off the goalkeeper, sneaking inside the left hand upright.
Barkhuizen made his hat-trick complete right on half-time, the high press forcing the goal as he closed down goalkeeper Mylod, getting a block in on the attempted clearance, the ball ricocheting off him and nestling nicely in the bottom left hand corner of the goal.
Cobh started the second half well with David Hurley driving goalwards, just wide of Declan Rudd’s left hand upright just before the hour mark, the time that brought 11 changes from North End, with the starting line-up from the win at AFC Fylde coming on to the Turner’s Cross pitch.
Chances continued to come for PNE after the alterations, Louis Moult finding the target from 22 yards, after some great movement and pass from Josh Harrop, only for Mylod to dive at full stretch to deny PNE’s No.9.
On the counter the Lilywhites also looked dangerous, Harrop broke down the right on 75 minutes, coming into a central area, finding Callum Robinson, who in turn squared the ball left to Burke, but he dragged his shot just wide of the left hand post.
But the former Shamrock Rovers man was not to be denied with seven minutes to go, Callum Robinson was brought down 20 yards out in a left hand channel and Harrop and Burke stood over it. Seemingly it was the No.10 to take it, but Burke took it quickly and powerfully, drilling the ball left footed into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
Harrop almost added a sixth in the closing stages, finding the outside of the left hand post, after some good build up play involved Burke and Horgan, but it was to be five and another good work out for Alex Neil’s side.
PNE line-up (First 60 minutes): Rudd, Woods, Hughes, Pearson, Clarke (c), Storey, Bodin, Gallagher, Maguire, Browne, Barkhuizen.
PNE line-up (Last 30 minutes): Maxwell, Fisher, Johnson, Pearson, Huntington (c), Davies, Horgan, Burke, Moult, Harrop, Robinson.
Subs not used: Baxter, O’Reilly.
Cobh Ramblers line-up: A Mylod, Fleming, O'Riordan, McSweeney, Christopher, Taylor, Hurley, I Mylod, Hull, Kenny, Sh O'Connor. Subs: Hunt, Leonard, Kabia, Sadys, St O'Connor, Fernandes, Wall, Crowley, Trialist, Cronin.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer