North End suffered a home defeat as Crewe Alexandra scored three goals at Deepdale.
Skipper Luke Murphy gave Alex the lead just past the half hour mark, Thorsten Stuckmann unable to get enough on his shot from the edge of the box after Byron Moore’s clever through ball for the onrushing midfielder.
And within six minutes of the interval coming and going the visitors made it three, with on loan Bradden Inman and Mathias Pogba converting goals on the break.
Paul Huntington headed home Lee Holmes' corner with two minutes left to reduce the arrears, but the Alex came away with the win.
The visitors half-time lead was probably a fair reflection of the game, with North End having plenty of possession, but without really hurting their opponents.
They had a number of shooting opportunities, but didn’t test Alan Martin in the visitors’ goal in the first period. The first chance came on eight minutes as good build up play saw Nicky Wroe play the ball into Anthony Elding, making his first start in place of Stuart Beavon, who was ruled out with illness. The frontman held the ball up on edge of box for captain John Mousinho, whose strike was just over the bar.
Lee Holmes went even closer on 12 minutes as a clever ball across the box by Todd Kane fround the No.11; his blistering shot f4rom the edge of the ‘D’ was an inch past right hand upright.
On the quarter hour mark the Railwaymen showed the threat they had as an Adam Dugdale header from Moore’s cross curled just past Stuckmann’s right hand post.
It took until the midway point of the half for either side to get a shot on target, and it came from North End’s first corner. A Holmes outswinger from left found Nicky Wroe making a late run into the back corner of the box and the No.8 hit a volley perfectly timed, but it was well-blocked by visitors resolute defence.
Steve Davis’ men had the lead on 32 minutes as Luke Murphy fired home, Thorsten Stuckmann not able to get enough on it, after a ball through from Byron Moore to the midfield man.
Four minutes after the break it was 2-0 as on loan Newcastle midfielder Bradden Inman raced through onto a well-weighted pass that split the North End defence open and he finished with a low strike off the inside of the right hand post from the edge of the box.
And it was three only two minutes later as Mathias Pogba converted at the back post from a right wing cross by Byron Moore.
North End made three quick changes, with Amoo, Sodje and Byrom all added to the side to try and give them some impetus.
Lee Holmes and David Amoo saw powerful shots blocked as the Lilywhites tried to get themselves back in the game.
Skipper John Mousinho missed a gilt-edged chance to reduce the arrears with 12 minutes left, firing over David Amoo's cross from the edge of the six yard box and then they seemed to be denied a stonewall penalty for hand ball from Holmes' cross.
Harry Davis cleared out from under his own cross bar with Elding lurking with two minutes left and from the corner Paul Huntington powered home Lee Holmes cross to give late hope of a dramatic comeback, however, it wasn't to be.
: Stuckmann, Kane (Amoo, 57), Cansdell-Sherriff, Wroe (Byrom, 63), Huntington, Robertson, Monakana (Sodje, 57), Welsh, Mousinho, Elding, Holmes. Subs not used: Simonsen, Trundle, Procter, King.PNE Line-Up
: Martin, Davis, Ellis, Dugdale, Murphy, Pogba, Moore (Aneke, 86), Turton, Robertson, Osman, Inman. Subs not used: Clayton, Guthrie, Ray, Daniels, Garratt, Colclough.Crewe Alexandra Line-Up
: 8,542 (458 away fans)Attendance
: Mr D DrysdaleReferee