The North End No.8 scored his tenth goal of the season with a brilliant return effort back over Scunthorpe United on loan Man City keeper Eirik Johansen's head from near the centre circle to double the Lilywhites lead with 13 minutes to go.
They had taken the lead seven minutes before the interval, Lee Holmes firing low into the bottom right hand corner from Stuart Beavon’s clever pass after manager Simon Grayson had just switched his wing men.
Jack King then added the cherry on the top of an excellent performance with a header from Jeffrey Monakana's cross deep in injury time.
The game had been a slow burner until shortly before that opener. The manager had made three changes to the side Joe Garner, Graham Cummins and Jeffrey Monakana dropping to the bench, King, Beavon and Hayhurst start.
The eventual goalscorer was the first to have an effort at goal, the No.11’s half volley just wide right after Jack King’s flick on to Stuart Beavon who laid it off for Holmes.
It took 24 minutes for the opposition to muster a shot at goal, a 35 yard strike well wide by midfielder Jimmy Ryan.
Akpo Sodje, on his return to Deepdale, had been given a warm reception by the North End faithful before kick-off, but two free kicks given in his favour which did not look like fouls at all soon turned the crowd against him.
Although both free kicks were wasted, they were in dangerous positions around the North End box and gave the Lilywhites warning of the threat of the Iron.
The opening goal came on 38 minutes. A quick throw in by David Buchanan on the left into the corner flag found Stuart Beavon; he held off two defenders before threading a ball into the left edge of the box for Lee Holmes, who cut in from left edge of the box and fired right footed into bottom right hand corner.
After the goal it was all North End. A Connolly ball in on 41 minutes from King on the penalty spot and he tried to lay it off, but it was just away from Beavon in a good position and then shortly after Ryan was close to putting Hayhurst’s right wing cross in his own net. From Holmes; corner, an inswinger, Keane put the ball back into the box and Bailey Wright on the turn powered a shot just over the bar.
Just before the break Holmes was struggling with a right leg problem, the physio needed and he headed off down tunnel just before break and didn’t appear for second half.
John Welsh came on with a change in shape for North End, but it didn't stop their attacking thrust as twice in the opening few minutes Stuart Beavon cut in from the left and fired strong efforts goawards, the first forcing Eirik Johansen into a save and second flashing just over the bar.
Akpo Sodje went close on the hour mark, with a snap shot after Duffy's deep cross, but David Buchanan was on hand to mop up when needed; the full back having another effective game in the left back slot.
Sub John Welsh danced his way into the box a minute later winning North End's first corner of the second period. The Liverpudlian took the corner himself swinging it into the box, Paul Huntington getting a flick on, but away from a North End boot.
The moment of the afternoon and a late contender for goal of the season came in the 77th minute. Johansen has scuffed a clearance up to 45 yards from his goal and Nicky Wroe hit it first time back over the keeper's head and into the empty net to take his season's tally into double figures - what a strike!
Declan Rudd needed to make a save in the 86th minute - for the first time, a tame effort from Scunthorpe sub Mike Grella warming his hands in the bright sunshine.
Immediately up the other end, somehow the ball stayed off, coming back off the post as Hayhurst, Wroe, King and Welsh all tried to scramble the ball in after a break from Hayhurst and some clever skill down the left flank.
In the final minute the home players and fans thought they had finally won their first home penalty for over a year when they was a clear handball in the box after a mazy run by substitute Jeffrey Monakan, but match official Darren Deadman waved play on, not for the first time on the afternoon!
It was all North End in the closing minutes with Will Hayhurst seeing an effort blocked after more good work from Monakana and the icing was put on the cake in the final minute of injury time when Jack King headed home Monakana's deep cross, leaving Johansen helpless and the Lilywhites bouyant.
: Rudd, Connolly, Buchanan, Keane (Monakana, 82), Huntington, Wright, Holmes (Welsh, 46), Wroe, Beavon (Garner, 85), King, Hayhurst. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Cummins, Mousinho, Foster.PNE line-up
: Johansen, Ribeiro, Mirfin, Ryan, Sodje, Barcham (Grella, 52), Canavan, Duffy, Godden (Alabi, 74), Collins, Newey. Subs not used: Severn, Gibbon, Hawley, Forde.Scunthorpe United line-up
: 8,118 (300 away fans)Attendance
: Mr D DeadmanReferee