Goals from Mason Mount and Richard Keogh gave Derby County all three points at Pride Park.
Mount opened the scoring with Derby’s first shot on target seven minutes before the break, firing home after David Nugent’s cross from the right. And Keogh headed home the second from Mount’s corner with 12 minutes to go.
There were four changes for the Lilywhites with Josh Harrop, Ryan Ledson – for his first league start – Ben Davies and Graham Burke coming into the side and the green-clad visitors dominated the first half and were very unlucky to come at the break 1-0 down.
Ten minutes in Lukas Nmecha tested Scott Carson in the Rams goal after a good spell of pressure from North End, Callum Robinson finding him just inside the box, and his quick feet allowing him room to shoot but straight down the former England stopper’s throat.
And the former Liverpool custodian was in good form; just before the half hour mark he saved superbly from Robinson. Nmecha again went forward and played in Harrop who drove forward and pulled the ball back to Robinson, who checked inside and shot, the keeper going down to his right to push the ball behind for a corner.
The opening goal came on 38 minutes and it was completely against the run of play. PNE were on the attack, but the ball was collected on the right by Mason Bennett, who played the ball down the right for Nugent, who played a first-time ball right across in behind the green defence and Mount collected, checked onto his right had fired low past Rudd into the left-hand side of the goal.
The second half reverted back to type from the off, with North End dominating the chances, in fact 70 seconds in Graham Burke was found by Nmecha and curled an effort from the right-hand corner of the box past Carson, but also just over the stanchion.
The home side were still a threat on the counter and another Nugent through ball found Bennett in the box, but Rudd stood up well to deny the midfielder in a one-on-one chance in the 50th minute.
On the hour mark Burke went close to levelling matters. A free kick from Harrop into the box was headed up in the air and fed back into the middle of the box by Andrew Hughes, where the Irishman spun and shot left footed just past the left-hand upright.
But with 12 minutes to go Frank Lampard’s skipper Keogh wrapped up the points for the home side. A corner was conceded on the right and Mount delivered to the back post and Keogh rose highest to head down and squeezed the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
Derby County line-up: Carson, Forsyth, Bryson, Tomori, Keogh (c), Mount, Lawrence, Bennett (Jozefzoon, 80), Nugent, Ledley (B Johnson, 49), Bogle (Wisdom, 30). Subs not used: Roos, Waghorn, Marriott, Lowe.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Hughes, Pearson, Huntington (c), Davies, Burke (Barker, 68), Ledson, Nmecha (Barker, 68), Harrop, Robinson (Moult, 80). Subs not used: Maxwell, Earl, D Johnson, Storey.
Attendance: 25,257 (1,144 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr D Webb