A breakaway goal by Sheyi Ojo just after half-time gave Cardiff City all three points in a competitive clash at Deepdale.
The Bluebirds scored when he and Kieffer Moore broke from a PNE attack and the Liverpool loanee fired into the top corner from 15 yards from the right-hand corner of the penalty area.
Lilywhites boss Alex Neil named an unchanged side to the one that had won convincingly at Brentford a fortnight before, with Daniel Johnson returning to the squad on the bench, after four weeks out through injury.
There was not a lot in the game; it was a tight affair from the outset, with neither side testing the opposing goalkeeper in the early stages.
However, it was PNE who had the first real chance, as Andrew Hughes headed down to Scott Sinclair, who laid the ball off for Sean Maguire, whose snap shot was straight at Alex Smithies in the visitors’ goal on 18 minutes.
Neil Harris’ side’s best chance came just after the half hour mark when Ojo crossed from the right and Moore rose highest at the back post, but he couldn’t keep his header down and it flew over Declan Rudd and into the empty Town End seating.
In the final minute of the first half North End had two good efforts, with Hughes firstly seeing a shot blocked by Curtis Nelson and then, from the rebound, Brad Potts saw his effort again saved by Smithies.
But the visitors took the lead on 52 minutes as Moore and Ojo raced down the right, on a breakaway from a PNE attack, with the former firing the ball forward for the winger, who fired a vicious shot from just inside the right corner of the area, into the top right-hand corner from 15 yards out.
Tom Barkhuizen, Emil Riis and Jayden Stockley were all added to the attacking options in the final 20 minutes, but it was Scott Sinclair who tested Smithies next, his 25-yard effort from skipper Alan Browne’s flick – after Ryan Ledson had found him – forcing the ’keeper into a good save.
The best chance to draw level came with two minutes to go as Ben Davies delivered an excellent left-wing cross and Stockley had pulled off the back of Sol Bamba, before getting his header in, but he couldn’t generate the power and Smithies was again able to claim and the Welshmen took the win.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Rafferty, Hughes, Pearson, Bauer, Davies, Browne, Ledson (Stockley, 76), Maguire (Riis, 67), Potts (Barkhuizen, 60), Sinclair. Subs not used: Ripley, Johnson, Gallagher, Storey.
Cardiff City line-up: Smithies, Osei-Tutu (Bamba, 77), Morrison (c), Bacuna, Ralls, Moore, Nelson, Cunningham (Wilson, 29), Pack, Ojo (Vaulks, 78), Hoilett. Subs not used: Phillips, Glatzel, Murphy, Benkovic.
Referee: Mr K Stroud