Goals from Adam Armstrong, Ben Brereton and Tyrhys Dolan gave Blackburn Rovers three points against ten man Preston North End at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites, without eight senior players through injury, lost Joe Rafferty through a straight red card just before half-time, punished doubly by Armstrong converting the resulting penalty.
Brereton then converted Lewis Holtby’s pass eight minutes after the interval, with Dolan poking home from close range from Brereton’s pass in the last 15 minutes.
Already without a number of key players, manager Alex Neil lost Ben Pearson, Josh Earl and Paul Gallagher the day before the game, meaning scholars Jacob-Holland Wilkinson and Lewis Coulton were named amongst the substitutes.
The first half began as a cagey affair, with neither side threatening too much; and a combination of a Rudd save from Brereton and a Rafferty block from Armstrong was the only real worry for PNE in the opening stages.
But just before half-time the game swung dramatically. The best chance of the half came the home side’s way, as the ball was worked into Daniel Johnson on the right-side of the penalty area on his favoured left foot, but his double effort was twice blocked.
And on the break, Rovers took advantage, as Sam Gallagher was brought down by Rafferty just inside the penalty area, with Tony Harrington pointing to the spot and immediately pulling out a red card.
Armstrong stepped up to fire the penalty straight into the bottom left-hand corner; Declan Rudd going the right way, but unable to reach the powerfully struck effort.
At half-time, Brad Potts replaced Scott Sinclair with PNE going 5-3-1, with skipper Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen at right and left wing back respectively.
It was the No.29 who almost got his side level shortly after the break when he made an overlapping run down the left, before cutting in and curling a shot past Thomas Kaminski, but just wide of the right-hand post.
The visitors doubled their lead two minutes later as Holtby threaded a ball right through the middle and former Nottingham Forest man Brereton slid it into the bottom right of the goal.
And the game was over when substitute Dolan nudged the ball into the empty net from inside the six-yard box after Brereton’s pull back with 14 minutes left.
There were chances to narrow the deficit in the closing stages, Browne having a chance to shoot with five minutes left, following a flick on from substitute Jayden Stockley, but saw his pull back for another change Sean Maguire blocked by Darragh Lenihan and then the No.8 also fired a free kick inches wide from 25 yards after Stockley was fouled in the final minute, but they could not get a consolation goal.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher (Storey, 79), Rafferty, Ledson, Bauer, Huntington, Barkhuizen, Browne, Riis (Maguire, 79), Johnson (Stockley, 82), Sinclair (Potts, 46). Subs not used: Ripley, Bayliss, Holland-Wilkinson, O’Reilly, Coulton.
Blackburn Rovers line-up: Kaminski, Nyambe, Armstrong (Dolan, 68), Rothwell (Elliott, 60 (Buckley, 80)), Gallagher, Holtby (Downing, 68), Douglas, Trybull (Davenport, 60), Brereton, Lenihan (c), Wharton. Subs not used: Pears, Chapman, Bell, Carter.
Referee: Mr T Harrington