Goals from Ben Woodburn and Alan Browne either side of Peter Haring’s penalty earned Preston North End a 2-1 victory over Hearts at Deepdale.
Woodburn, who spent the 2021/22 season with the Scottish side, opened the scoring on 34 minutes with a tidy first-time finish into the bottom corner.
North End were pegged back from the spot in the second half by Haring, before skipper Browne scored the winner 15 minutes from time.
Woodburn was the man with the first chance of the game, intercepting a loose ball out of defence before looking to shoot, but Alex Cochrane made up for his error with a last-ditch challenge.
After a lull in goalmouth action, Ched Evans almost opened the scoring in style with a great strike from distance, however a slight deflection took it just wide.
The visitors’ first opportunity came shortly after the half-hour mark, with a brilliant Barrie McKay cross finding Liam Boyce inside the six-yard box, and the striker saw his effort well kept out at close range by goalkeeper Freddie Woodman.
Just a minute later, North End had the lead, as Evans chose to dummy Brad Potts’ cross from the right, and Woodburn was there behind him to expertly slot home with a first-time finish.
The 22-year-old nearly had his second in the early stages of the second half as Emil Riis sent him into the area, but the midfielder put his effort just wide of goal.
Ali McCann and Liam Lindsay both had chances to make it two after that, but it was the visitors next on the scoresheet. Toby Sibbick’s run out of defence ended with the ball being played into Boyce, who was brought down by Hughes inside the area, and Haring stepped up to slot home from 12 yards.
PNE had the lead again on 76 minutes through substitute and captain Browne. He was found after more good work from Woodburn and the No.8 did well to cut inside onto his left foot and find the back of the net, despite a touch from Craig Gordon.
Stephen Kingsley was inches away from scoring a spectacular equaliser in the game’s final stages, but it was North End who took victory.
PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey (Diaby, 69), Lindsay (Cunningham, 78), Hughes (Bauer, 78); Potts, Whiteman (Amaral, 88), McCann (Browne, 69), Woodburn (O’Neill, 86), Brady (Johnson, 45); Riis, Evans (Ledson, 75). Subs not used: Cornell, Coulton.
Hearts line-up: Gordon; Sibbick (Halkett, 77), Neilson (Kingsley, 45), Cochrane; Atkinson (Smith, 56), Haring, Grant (Mackay-Steven, 70), Halliday (Rowles, 56); Forrest, Boyce, McKay. Subs not used: Stewart.
Attendance: 3,286 (513 away).
Referee: Mr P Bankes.