Two goals in the opening 16 minutes gave North End their first home win under Simon Grayson.
North End took the lead when Lee Holmes beautifully curled the opener into the bottom left hand corner after just six minutes and within another ten they had doubled their tally when Will Hayhurst slammed home the scorer of the opening goal’s right wing cross.
For the manager’s first home game he went with the same 18 that were on duty at Milton Keynes the previous week, whilst the visitors only had one enforced alteration, the suspended James Dunne replaced by Antony Grant.
The Lilywhites started the game on the front foot, Stuart Beavon picking the ball up 30 yards from goal with his back to the Kop, turning, ran and shooting just over Steve Arnold’s goal after just 60 seconds of the action.
And the opening goal came on six minutes. Lee Holmes picked up the ball with his back to goal 30 yards out in a right hand channel, turned two men and curled a peach of a left foot effort into the bottom left hand corner for his first goal at Deepdale and the first home goal of the Simon Grayson era.
Shortly after the home side had a really big penalty shot, Beavon bundled over in the right hand corner of the box having turned away from Darius Charles, but referee Andy Woolmer waved away the claims.
On 13 minutes, visiting skipper Mark Roberts wasn’t far away from diverting a Lee Holmes cross with his knee past his own keeper, but it went just wide.
Then twice within in ten seconds the ball flashed across the face of the goal, first with Connolly from the right and then Hayhurst from the left, but this was the pre-cursor to the second.
And it was brilliant football from North End. Lee Holmes crossed from the right and Will Hayhurst made it three in three with a superb late run; smashing the ball in for his first goal at Deepdale at the back post.
Ten minutes later the North End No.24 stung the gloves of Arnold. He exchanged a one-two with John Welsh 25 yards out and then curled a right footer towards the bottom left, which the Boro keeper had to get down and cling on to.
Just before the half mark a brace of chances fell to North End’s skipper John Welsh. More good build up play from North End saw Paul Connolly’s right wing ball only cleared to the edge of the box by Roberts and John Welsh scooped a shot just wide of the left hand upright. And second later the Scouser latched onto Stuart Beavon’s lay off and fired left footed from the edge of the ‘D’, deflected just wide by Darius Charles.
The small, but vocal, band of visiting fans had to wait 34 minutes for their team’s first effort, Anthony Grant firing well wide from 30 yards out.
It could and really should have been three to North End on 56 minutes when brilliant work on the right saw Stuart Beavon losse his marker and pull the ball back to Jack King unmarked eight yards out, but he scooped the ball over the bar.
Lee Holmes was still probing down the right and powered an effort just over the bar a minute later as the Lilywhites looked to add to their first half tally.
Simon Grayson was forced into a change at the midway point in the second half, Chris Beardsley replacing Jack King, wgho was injured in a tackle with Gavin Mahon; who was also forced off with a knock from the challenge.
Holmes was still a major threat for North End and after picking up a ball in the right hand channel he again danced past a defender with 20 minutes left, this time he went for the top left hand corner, but couldn't keep the ball down and it went just over the stanchion.
on 74 minutes Paul Huntington went close. A free kick in from Lee Holmes on the right was headed up in the air, but as it fell the North End centre half hit a sweet volley, but it hit the side-netting and not the back of the net as some fans at first thought.
With six minutes left Will Hayhurst showed great strength to burst forward onto a Stuart Beavon ball, drifted in from the right and powered a a 25 yard effort towards the top corner that Steve Arnold had to tip round the post.
Lucas Akins had Stevenage's first effort on goal with a header in the 86th minute, Declan Rudd claiming at a stretch after Freeman's long ball into the box.
Three minutes of time was added on by the officials, but that only held up the celebrations of the fans, as North End made it back-to-back home wins.
: Rudd, Connolly, Buchanan, Welsh (Mousinho, 85), Huntington, Wright, Holmes, Wroe, Beavon, King (Beardsley, 67), Hayhurst. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Robertson, Garner, Monakana, Procter.PNE line-up
: Arnold, Gray, Comminges, Mahon (Shroot, 65), Roberts, Charles, Tansey, Grant, Haber (Beleck, 58), Hoskins (Akins, 59), Freeman. Subs not used: Day, Hills, Jeffrey, Iro.Stevenage line-up
: Mr Andy WoolmerReferee
: 9,000 (152 away fans)Attendance