Goals from Jay Rodriguez, an own goal and Dwight Gayle gave West Bromwich Albion the three points at Deepdale, despite Andrew Hughes grabbing his first goal for the club.
Goals from Jay Rodriguez, an own goal and Dwight Gayle gave West Bromwich Albion the three points at Deepdale, despite Andrew Hughes grabbing his first goal for the club and Alan Browne scoring late on.
Rodriguez headed the opener just after half-time, but Hughes equalised with a free kick from 20 yards, however, a cross came off Ben Davies to put the Baggies back in front and Gayle’s late free kick sealed the win, although Browne headed home in the last minute to reduce the arrears.
Manager Alex Neil made just two changes from the midweek clash with Middlesbrough, with Darnell Fisher, free of suspension, and Davies back in the side, with Tom Clarke and Tom Barkhuizen both dropping to the bench.
Jordan Storey retained his place in a back three, with Brandon Barker partnering Callum Robinson in attack, with the midfield three of Ben Pearson, Ryan Ledson and Browne retained in the engine room.
It was the visitors who created the first opening and perhaps the best of the first half, bringing the best out of Chris Maxwell in the process.
It came from a seventh minute corner as a deep cross from the left was headed across goal by Ahmed Hegazi to Kyle Bartley just a couple of yards out, who headed on target, brining a superb reaction stop from the Lilywhites stopper.
Whilst this was the best chance, the closest anyone came to breaking the deadlock in the opening period was Ledson. A corner from Robinson on the right was flicked on, finding Browne in the back-left corner of the box; he teed up the No.18, but his vicious low drive was denied the opening goal by the woodwork.
On the quarter hour mark Maxwell was needed again to save at feet of Jake Livermore after a lay off from Rodriguez put him through on goal; pressure from Pearson making it difficult for the front man.
At the half’s mid-point Andrew Hughes fired narrowly wide at the back post after quick corner saw Robinson switch onto his right foot and his ball was flicked on by Paul Huntington, with the Welsh full back just not quite forcing Sam Johnstone, on his return to Deepdale, into a save.
But just after the break the Baggies went ahead. The ball was won in the midfield by Harvey Barnes and he found Livermore who crossed right-footed for Rodriguez to head into top right corner from 15 yards out.
A huge shout for a penalty came in the 67th minute as Browne got the wrong side of Kyle Bartley, latching onto the end of Pearson’s perfectly weighted through ball. His ankles seemed clearly clipped as he was shaping to shoot, but referee Tony Harrington did not react, neither did the linesman, John Flynn in a perfect position down the right-hand side in line with the incident.
But North End drew level on 71 minutes. Pearson was fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Hughes and Brandon Barker stood over it, but it was the left foot of the No.16 who curled it low into the bottom left-hand corner to level matters.
However, the parity only lasted two minutes as a cross from the right-hand side came off the head of Ben Davies and looped up and over Chris Maxwell into top left-hand corner, giving the North End goalkeeper no chance.
And the points seemed in the bag for the visitors when with two minutes to go Dwight Gayle curled a free kick from almost 30 yards into the top left hand corner of the goal.
North End did grab a second in the final minute of six added on, as substitute Josh Harrop burst forward, was upended as he played another change Louis Moult through, but play went on, the striker saw his shot saved by Johnstone, but Browne was on hand to nod home from close range.
There was even chance for one last attack, with final change Tom Barkhuizen launching a long throw into the penalty area, but the Lilywhites could not get a clear cut chance Darren Moore's side held on for the points.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Storey, Huntington (c), Davies, Fisher (Harrop, 89), Pearson, Ledson, Hughes, Browne, Robinson (Barkhuizen, 53), Barker (Moult, 77). Subs not used: Rudd, Earl, Clarke, Harrop, Johnson.
West Bromwich Albion line-up: Johnstone, Gibbs, Bartley, Livermore (c), Mears, Barnes (Robson-Kanu, 72), Gayle, Barry (Brunt, 72), Rodriguez, Dawson, Hegazi. Subs not used: Myhill, Edwards, Hoolahan, Adarabioyo, Field.
Attendance: 14,099 (3,192 WBA fans)
Referee: Mr T Harrington