The Lilywhites suffered only their second defeat in 18 game, in a scrappy game at Deepdale.
Mustapha Carayol gave Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town the three points with a breakaway goal on 21 minutes and despite trying everything to turn the game in their favour, the home side could not get back into the match.
Alex Neil was forced into one change, with Darnell Fisher suspended, Calum Woods coming in at right back, as the manager retained the 4-4-2 that was successful at Aston Villa in midweek.
The visitors showed their intent from early in the game, Carayol, making his full debut for the Suffolk side, breaking away down the right before checking into the box, past Woods, the ball coming back to the winger eight yards out and he poked wide when he perhaps should have scored.
For North End, they were having plenty of the ball and won nine corner kicks in the first half alone. Callum Robinson was inches away from excellent Ben Pearson cross from the right after a clever one-two with Barkhuizen on 17 minutes, one of those corners conceded.
A trio of corner chances followed and from the third Billy Bodin had space to cross to find Alan Browne unmarked around the penalty spot, but his jump was miss-timed and he headed over the bar.
What proved to be the match-winning goal came when Carayol ran down the left flank onto long ball from Callum Connolly, won a headed from a bouncing ball and drove into the box, before slotting low into the bottom right hand corner.
And on the half hour mark it was almost 2-0, Carayol again breaking down the left, showing great pace to race to the byline and pull the ball back for Martyn Waghorn, only for a superb challenge by Ben Davies to prevent a second for Ipswich.
Ten minutes before the interval wing back Dominic Iorfa hit the bar from a shot after a left wing cross went all the way across the goal and out to the overlapping defender.
The North End boss looked to change the game before the break, making two changes. Woods and Robinson were replaced by Josh’s Harrop and Earl on 38 minutes and immediately the latter tried to get on the ball and make things happen.
However, it was the left back who tested Bartosz Bialkowski in the middle of the season half, driving in from the right and shooting left footed towards the bottom left hand corner, forcing the Polish keeper to make a solid stop to his left.
Daryl Horgan was also added, whilst Paul Huntington was sent up front, with the Lilywhites trying everything possible to try and force an opening, but the back five of Tractor Boys and those sat in front kept North End at bay and held on to record the win.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Woods (Earl, 38), Cunningham (c), Pearson, Huntington, Davies, Bodin (Horgan, 69), Browne, Moult, Robinson (Harrop, 38), Barkhuizen. Subs not used: Maxwell, Gallagher, Spurr, Welsh.
Ipswich Town line-up: Bialkowski, Iorfa, Knudsen, Chambers (c), Webster, Skuse, Waghorn, Garner (Sears, 71), Connolly, Carter-Vickers, Carayol (Hyam, 46). Subs not used: Crowe, Celina, Spence, Ward, Gleeson.
Attendance: 11,511 (474 Ipswich Town fans)
Referee: Mr S Duncan