Cardiff City 2 PNE 0
Whittingham fired into the bottom right hand corner from the spot after Daniel Johnson had been punished for pulling back Junior Hoilett in the box and then Zohore raced away from three North End defenders from his own half, before chipping the ball coolly over Chris Maxwell, both inside the first 30 minutes.
Neil Warnock’s men took their chances in a first half that had little between the sides; the Bluebords the more clinical from the few opportunities that came along.
The yellows had already been given a warning of the threat of Hoilett when it needed an excellent tackle from skipper Tom Clarke to deny him a shooting opportunity in the box after the winger had squirmed away from two defenders to find space in the left hand corner of the penalty area.
And it was the No.33 who brought about the chance for the opener when he showed another burst of pace to break into the left side of the penalty area only for a tug on his shirt by Johnson being spotted by referee Graham Scott, who pointed straight to the spot.
Whittingham calmly fired right into the bottom right hand corner for the opener and before the half hour mark it was two. Zohore picked up a break from some PNE pressure around the City penalty area and burst away from the half way line and Johnson, Paul Huntington and a third North End man got into the box and dinked the ball over an onrushing Maxwell to double the Blubirds’ advantage.
The visitors’ best chance of the first half came five minutes before the interval and it took a brilliant save from Allan McGregor to deny Ben Pearson a goal back after the former Manchester United man burst from the right hand side into the box and fired on target, only for a great block by the on loan Scottish keeper on his birthday.
The start of the second period saw North End on top, with a plethora of chances to get back in the game all inside the first 15 minutes of the half.
First up Aiden McGeady was inches wide of the left hand post from 20 yards after a good build up involving Hugill and half-time substitute Jermaine Beckford – who had replaced Johnson and Daryl Horgan.
Next up skippr Clarke had a gilt-edged chance to draw PNE a goal closer, from just by the penalty spot after a Paul Gallagher free kick from the right was headed down to the captain, but he couldn’t keep his shot down and leaning back fired over the bar.
Immediately after Beckford first straight at McGregor from 15 yards out after quick-thinking Gallagher free kick from the right hand touchline mid-way inside the Cardiff half.
On 55 minutes Jordan Hugill this time had a great chance to pull a goal back. A corner from Gallagher on the right fell to him, and he cleverly dragged the ball back onto his left, but fired just over the bar from 15 yards out.
After that flurry of opportunities North End were grateful to keeper Maxwell to keep the lead at two just after the hour mark when Cardiff City broke and it took a superb save from the North End stopper to deny Zohore a second and the Bluebirds a third after a low dive to his left by the PNE No.22 kept out the rifled effort after Whittingham’s through ball to the forward.
After the early pressure from the Lilywhites the home side did well to manage the second part of the latter half and held on for the win.
Cardiff City line-up: McGregor, Peltier (Connolly, 46), Morrison (c), Richards, Whittingham (Halford, 79), Ralls, Bamba, Gunnarsson, Harris, Zohore, Hoilett. Subs not used: Murphy, Noone, John, Kennedy, Healey.
PNE line-up: Maxwell, Browning, Cunningham, Pearson (Browne, 78), Clarke (c), Huntington, Gallagher, Johnson (Beckford, 46), McGeady, Hugill, Horgan (Robinson, 66). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Makienok, Pringle, Boyle.
Attendance: 14,065 (270 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr G Scott