A controversial injury-time penalty gave West Bromwich Albion the points at Deepdale.
Albion substitute Kyle Edwards dived in the penalty area, with Declan Rudd having pulled out of a challenge on the winger, but referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot, with Charlie Austin converting.
It was a hard blow to take for the Lilywhites, who were without Darnell Fisher, Patrick Bauer, Ben Davies and Paul Gallagher, Andrew Hughes, Tom Clarke and Josh Ginnelly, plus long-term absentee Louis Moult.
In fact it was even more frustrating considering a strong shout of their own for a penalty for a foul Sean Maguire by Nathan Ferguson mid-way through the second half had been waved away.
It was a game where, with the absentees, Alex Neil’s side frustrated the side who returned to the top of the Championship with the win and in fact, other than the spot kick that should never been, the Baggies didn’t have a single shot on target in the second half.
Slaven Bilić’s men dominated possession before the interval, but despite a good spell of pressure in the last 20 minutes of the first half, their best chance was a 20-yard shot by Ferguson that Rudd tipped over.
And in fact, the best chance of the opening period was North End’s, when Maguire left Ferguson in a spin and drove from the left to the byline; he had Tom Barkhuizen 15 yards as an option, but chose to power in a shot forcing former PNE loanee Sam Johnstone into a save.
After the break the real chances fell to PNE. Jayden Stockley was brought down just over 25 yards out by Semi Ajayi and from a clever free kick Brad Potts saw a shot blocked for what should have been a corner, only for another odd decision by the match official.
But the most intensive spell of pressure came just after the hour mark as Johnstone first denied former team-mate Daniel Johnson, with a finger-tip save around the post from DJ’s effort from the edge of the ‘D’ and then from the first corner he made another superb stop to deny skipper Alan Browne at the back post.
Another corner followed and this time the Irishman put over a deep inswinger that Johnstone missed, but Stockley was unable to get his header under the bar and it flashed just over.
But controversy was to end the game, as Edwards went tumbling to the floor just before the clock ticked into injury-time, and follow sub Austin stepped up to convert, denying the home side what would have been a fully deserved point.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Browne (c), Rafferty, Pearson, Huntington, Storey, Barkhuizen (Nugent 90), Johnson, Stockley, Potts (Harrop, 88), Maguire (Bodin, 90). Subs not used: Ripley, Bayliss, Ledson, Armer, Nugent, Bodin.
West Bromwich Albion line-up: Johnstone, Gibbs, Robson-Kanu (Krovinović, 84), Bartley, Ajayi, Livermore (c), Phillips (Edwards, 61), Pereira, Sawyers, Diangana (Austin, 75), Ferguson. Subs not used: Bond, Furlong, Barry, Hegazi.
Attendance: 13,015 (1,357 West Bromwich Albion fans)
Referee: Mr O Langford