Goals from Eoin Doyle and a brace from Joe Garner gave the Lilywhites the win on a balmy evening in Oldham.
The opener came 20 minutes in, the front three of Callum Robinson, Simon Makienok and Eoin Doyle combined, the Dane squaring cleverly for the Irishman to open his body and cushion a finish into the inside of the right hand side-netting from 15 yards out.
The second came 20 minutes from the end, Garner, who had only been on the pitch ten minutes, powering a header into the top right hand corner from Chris Humphrey’s right wing cross. Then the No.14 capped off the win with an emphatic penalty after Jermaine Beckford had been fouled.
Garner’s two goals sandwiched the home side’s only strike of the night, an excellent finish by a trialist who had driven in from the left and fired into the top left hand corner from 20 yards.
It was a night where a trio of Clarke, Maxwell and Browne got 90 minutes under their belt and the other starters all got at least an hour, however, there was some bad news with Calum Woods only last 16 minutes, being stretchered off after a dangerous tackle left him prone by the dugouts.
In reality it could have been much more than 1-0 by half-time, the combination of height, power and the strong running of Eoin Doyle a constant threat. The chances began on three minutes, Makienok heading Robinson’s left wing cross against the foot of the left post.
Connor Ripley, on loan from Middlesbrough, had a good game in the Oldham goal and denied Makienok on nine minutes after a good ball through from Doyle; John Welsh having initially won the ball on the edge of his own ‘D’ and started a quick counter-attack.
On 20 minutes the first goal came. Robinson ran down the left onto Greg Cunningham’s throw in and fired the ball into Makienok just inside the box; the Dane cleverly squared for the flame-haired Irishman who fired powerfully past Ripley into the right hand bottom corner.
Robinson was denied by Ripley just after the half hour mark, the keeper tipping his effort round the left hand post and then again the stopper prevented the former Villa man grabbing a deserved goal, after a poor back header by Luke Woodland had sent him through on goal.
It was all change on the hour mark; Beckford, Garner, Hugill, Huntington and Gallagher introduced and Garner had an almost immediate impact, rising powerfully to header Chris Humphrey right wing cross from the touchline back across goal into the top right hand corner.
Oldham trialist No.23 brought the home crowd to life two minutes later as he won a corner, took it himself quickly, playing a quick one-two, before driving in to the left hand corner of the box and powering a shot into the top left hand corner giving Chris Maxwell no chance.
But the Lilywhites – in their new home kit for the first time - gave themselves a two goal cushion again with a quarter of an hour to go when Ben Davies, with his first touch after coming on, threw a long ball in that Garner flicked on and Jermaine Beckford collected, running into the box, only to be pulled back by Cameron Burgess. Oliver Langford had no hesitation is pointing straight to the pot and Garner emphatically fired the penalty in off the cross bar into the top left hand corner to give the scoreline the reflection it deserved.
Oldham Athletic line-up: Ripley, Law (Mantack, 61), Reckford, Wilson (Woodland, 46), Burgess, Flynn (Croft, 61). Banks (Klok, 46), Cassidy (Winchester, 63), Erwin (McKay, 46), Clarke (Edmundson, 74), Trialist (Trialist, 46).
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Woods (Humphrey, 16), Clarke (c), Wright (Huntington, 60), Cunningham (Davies, 74), Welsh (Gallagher, 60), Browne, Johnson (Smith, 74), Doyle (Garner, 60), Robinson (Hugill, 60), Makienok (Beckford, 60).
Attendance: 908 (127 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr O Langford