Ryan Croasdale bagged a brace as Preston cruised past Southport to book a Lancashire FA Senior Cup quarter final with Wigan Athletic.
The midfielder scored either side of a Lee Holmes strike as PNE swept the Football Conference team aside.
John Mousinho and Will Hayhurst completing the rout late on.
North End had the first sighting of goal when Jack Ryan flicked at Lee Holmes’ corner from the right, but he could only succeed in finding the side netting.
The Port’s best chance of the opening period was created by Brice Irie-Bi who surged through the midfield before taking aim at goal, but he dragged his shot harmlessly wide of Thorsten Stuckmann’s right hand post in the sixth minute.
The Lilywhites soon found their feet in the contest despite the slick pitch doing its upmost to stop anyone staying upright.
David Buchanan found Chris Beardsley’s feet down the right and the striker done brilliantly to spin away from his marker before flashing a ball across goal which was turned behind by Liam Willis.
North End were beginning to get some joy down the left and Hayhurst’s deep cross was only half cleared by the Southport defence, the ball falling to Beardsley who saw his stinging shot saved well by David Stevenson in the visitors goal.
In the 29th minute Irie-Bi received the first booking of the tie when he cynically tripped Croasdale.
Soon after the lively Beardsley again threatened the Port goal with a shot on the turn which Stevenson held well down low to his right.
Karl Ledsham had a half chance for the Football Conference side in the 37th minute, but his volley failed to trouble Preston’s German stopper.
The Lilywhites responded by changing to a 4-4-2 formation from their original 3-5-2 and the switch almost had an immediate impact, when youngster Jack Ryan saw his header from a Lee Holmes corner cleared off the line just seconds before the interval.
After the break Southport created the first chance of the half, drawing a fine stop out of Stuckmann from Osayamen Osawe’s long range drive.
But it was North End who drew first blood through central midfielder Croasdale.
The Academy graduate picking up the loose ball about 30 yards from goal, before driving forward and steering his shot into the bottom right hand corner past the outstretched arm of Stevenson.
Ryan was having the most unfortunate night imaginable in front of goal and his luck remained out when Willis single handily kept him out twice in quick succession.
In the 57th minute Ryan saw his shot cleared off the line by Willis before an almost identical incident happened less than 60 seconds later, this time the Port No.3 heading the ball off the line from Ryan’s front
The impressive Ryan was then replaced by Tyler Forbes who was given his chance to show what he could do.
The away side almost drew level in the 64th minute when Willis – who was having an eventful game to say the least, headed over the crossbar from close range.
And Lee Holmes punished Southport for that miss by doubling the Lilywhites lead just a minute later.
The North End No.11 picked up the ball on the right before driving inside and firing goalwards, only for a defender to stick a toe out and help deflect the ball past Stevenson.
With confidence growing the hosts struck again in the 72nd minute, Croasdale again the headline grabber with a stunning effort from at least 30 yards out which rocketed into the top left hand corner.
And it was four in the 81st minute.
Again Croasdale was the thorn in Southport’s side as he flashed another long range shot on target and Stevenson could only parry it out as far as Mousinho who controlled his finish well.
Beardsley almost got his reward for all his hard work just minutes later when he got the better of Stevenson who tried to narrow the angle, but the striker couldn’t quite find the target.
The win was wrapped up by Hayhurst in the 87th minute who clipped the ball over the advancing ‘keeper from Alex Nicholson’s defence splitting pass.
Preston North End line-up: Stuckmann, Nicholson, Hayhurst, Sampson, King (Roscoe 76), Buchanan, Mousinho, Croasdale, Beardsley, Ryan (Forbes 63), Lee Holmes (Sean Holmes 85).
Subs not used: Dalton, Anderton.
Southport line-up: Stevenson, Challoner (Milligan 58), Akrigg, Brown, Willis, Chalmers (Flynn 78), Irie-Bi, Ledsham, Rutherford, Osawe (Brown 73), Hattersley.
Subs not used: Hurst, Fitzpatrick.
Referee – Mr D Mohareb
Assistant Referees – Mr J Mainwaring, Mr P Barlow,
Fourth Official – Mr P Ince