Two second half goals gave Fulham the points in a clash played in all weathers at Craven Cottage.
An own goal from David Nugent, heading into his own net from an Anthony Knockaert corner and a breakaway strike from Aboubakar Kamara in the 95th minute handed Scott Parker’s side the win.
The Lilywhites had much the better of the first half, with a number of excellent chances, but after not claiming a goal in that period, the hosts took advantage in the second period, albeit fortuitously.
Ben Pearson was ruled out by a hamstring strain that is likely to keep him sidelined for a month, but his replacement in the starting XI, Brad Potts put in a positive performance and could have given the green-clad visitors an early lead.
Seven minutes in Tom Barkhuizen was released down the right by Nugent – with Joe Bryan’s own hamstring going as he chased the No.29 – and the winger got to the byline and pulled the ball back to Potts, who fired what looked to have been the opening goal, only for a last ditch block on the line by Michael Hector, with Marek Rodak putting Potts’ follow up behind for a corner.
From that corner, which came a couple of minutes after a stoppage, whilst Bryan was replaced by Cyrus Christie, Daniel Johnson’s ball was flicked on by Nugent with the outside of his right foot, Sean Maguire firing the ball home inside the six yard box, but the assistant’s flag in front of the former Riverside Stand went up for offside to rule out the goal.
North End were completely in the ascendency in the first half and they had another shot on target before the 15 minute mark when another cross from Barkhuizen on the right found skipper Alan Browne, but his volley into the ground went straight into the hands of Rodak.
The same combination prevented an opener five minutes before half-time when Rodak saved again from Browne after Potts’ knockdown from Andrew Hughes’ driven cross from the left.
But having gone into the break level, the Cottagers took the lead in the 58th minute when Knockaert put over a left-footed corner from the right and Nugent rose at the front post and unfortunately flicked the ball into the top left corner of the goal.
Jayden Stockley, Scott Sinclair and Josh Harrop were all thrown into the mis to try and get back on level terms and a glorious chance came in the penultimate minute of normal time when a Harrop free kick from the left was met by Patrick Bauer, who sent the ball goalwards, but Rodak somehow saved with his feet.
And in the 95th minute, after the four minutes of allotted added on time, substitute Kamara broke from a scuffed PNE corner and he exchanged passes with Ivan Cavaleiro before the former put the ball into the net past two despairing defenders to secure the victory for Fulham.
Fulham line-up: Rodak, Hector, Odoi, Mitrovic, Cairney (c), Ream, Decordova-Reid, Arter (McDonald, 90), Cavaleiro, Bryan (Christie, 9), Knockaert (Kamara, 78). Subs not used: Bettinelli, Kebano, Johansen, Sessegnon.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Davies, Browne (c), Johnson, Hughes, Bauer, Maguire (Sinclair, 72), Barkhuizen, Nugent (Stockley, 66), Potts (Harrop, 83). Subs not used: Ripley, Clarke, Ledson, Huntington.
Attendance: 19,020 (1,948 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr D Webb