Manager Simon Grayson was delighted to see his side complete the festive fixtures with three straight wins.
North End followed up back-to-back away wins with three home points as Joe Garner was again the spectre that haunted Port Vale.
The visitors showed excellent spirit and resilience to mount a fight back, but North End held on to move within two points of the automatic promotion spots.
“We made it hard work at the end and the scoreline reflects that, but for 70 minutes we were very good,” the gaffer told the press after the game. “We were patient in our play, we created some good chances and we took a good lead.
“You can look at different factors as to why they came back into it and first and foremost it is because they had nothing to lose; they went and played 4-2-4 and got the ball forward quickly and we didn’t cope with the physical presence they had at times. We tired a little bit and got a little bit nervous, but have you do what you need to do to win a game and in the end we did that.
“It could have been real comfortable afternoon and we did play really well for 70 minutes and credit to Port Vale for having a go and giving us a few edgy moments.”
The goals came either side of half-time, Garner’s header opening up the scoring two minutes before the break, but following the interval the Lilywhites started the second 45 minutes on fire.
“We told the players they had done okay in the first half and got the goal, but we needed to do things a lot quicker,” continued Grayson. “They had a good shape and got bodies behind the ball and tried to hit us on the counter. So we told them to move the ball quickly; switch the play and try and isolate the defenders with a lot of balls into the box.
“We felt we had opportunities to score; the movement of the front two was very good and we just needed to up the tempo a little bit, which gave us the three goal lead.
“Joe [garner] is in good form at this moment of time. He gives everything for the shirt and could have had a couple more first half. He is playing with confidence and belief and that’s why he is at the football club, because he is a good player.
“We worked it into the box for the third goal and you expected Gally to shoot and then he gave it to Garns and you wondered how long he was taking and I was just pleased to see it go in and at that stage it looked like it was going to be comfortable.”
The second goal was the pick of the bunch, with Paul Gallagher firing in a missile from 25 yards: “Anyone in the ground will think that he hit it with some venom and accuracy and the keeper didn’t have a sniff at it,” added a happy PNE chief.
“That’s what Gally can do; coming off that line, coming inside and it’s a strong right foot he has got. We encourage everyone to shoot and there are times as a team we could shoot some more, but that was a fantastic strike today.
“I also thought the supporters were fantastic; they got nervous, like we all did, but they got behind the team to help us get the win and pull us through it.”