Preston North End matched their highest victory of the season as goals from Paul Huntington, Daniel Johnson, Joe Garner and Jermaine Beckford saw them brush aside Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park.
Simon Grayson’s side were in control from start to finish, opening the scoring with 70 seconds played and netting their fourth in the 82nd minute.
Huntington headed them in front from a Paul Gallagher corner, a lead which Johnson extended just after the half-hour mark with a fine finish from 20 yards.
Seven minutes into the second half, Garner struck from close range, chesting Callum Robinson’s fine cross over the line.
Then with eight minutes left, Beckford turned home a cross from fellow substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.
Bear in mind that Chris Humphrey hit the bar in the first half and Oldham keeper Jake Kean made some good saves in the second period, that underlined North End’s dominance.
It made for a fine afternoon for 2,117 Preston fans who had journeyed to Greater Manchester.
Victory moved them up to third place in the League One table, level on points with MK Dons who they face next Saturday.
Grayson had made just one change to the North End side, skipper Tom Clarke missed out after getting a bang on the head in last Tuesday night’s win over Scunthorpe.
His place at right-back went to Scott Wiseman, the Gibraltar international having replaced Clarke during the Scunthorpe game.
North End were out of the traps in rapid fashion, forcing their first corner with only 14 seconds on the clock.
That flag-kick from Gallagher was cleared behind for a second corner, Gallagher delivering it over to the far post where Huntington jumped to power a header into the roof of the net from six yards for his eighth goal of the season.
An eventful start for Huntington saw the goalscorer booked in the fourth minute for a foul on Dominic Poleon.
Humphrey almost stretched the advantage in the 14th minute but was denied by the woodwork, his shot from the edge of the box coming back off the bar.
A diagonal ball from Scott Laird sailed over the Oldham back four to find Garner in the box with his back to goal.
As he attempted to bring it down on his chest, Connor Brown got in a timely challenge to clear it.
Preston’s second goal came in the 32nd minute, there looking little on when Laird kept a stray John Welsh pass in play and knocked the ball forward for Garner to head it down to Johnson.
The January signing from Aston Villa, who had a loan spell with Oldham before Christmas, moved forward to the edge of the ‘D’ and let fly with a shot which flew over Kean into the roof of the net.
Oldham’s first corner of the game only came in the 40th minute when Bailey Wright got in a timely interception to take the ball away from Danny Philliskirk after Dominic Poleon’s cross had landed in the six-yard box.
In stoppage-time at the end of the first period, Welsh blocked well from a Poleon shot.
An early chance for Oldham after the interval saw Timothee Dieng send a header over the bar after meeting a corner from Mike Jones.
Preston did not have to wait much longer for their third goal, it arriving in the 52nd minute.
Callum Robinson chased a long ball out to the left-wing, checked inside on to his right foot and delivered a fine curling cross into the middle which presented Garner with the simple task of chesting it over the line from two yards.
North End kept their foot on the gas in the search for more goals, Gallagher seeing a free-kick sail over the bar and Robinson’s low shot pushed out by Kean.
At the other end, Garner was back on defensive duties to block a James Wilson header inside the six-yard box.
Neil Kilkenny and Beckford replaced Gallagher and Garner in a 70th minute double substitution.
Beckford was quickly involved in the action, winning a free-kick which Robinson drove too high.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake came on for Humphrey with 11 minutes left, North End saving legs for Tuesday night’s home game against Doncaster.
In the 80th minute, a shot from Robinson stung the gloves of Kean, Kilkenny getting to the rebound but seeing his follow-up scrambled behind for a corner.
The resulting corner was cleared as far as Johnson, the midfielder lifting it back into the box where Laird headed over.
North End made it 4-0 in the 82nd minute, Robinson chasing down a loose ball which he turned into the middle.
Ebanks-Blake and Kean challenged for it, the PNE substitute getting to it first and turning the ball across the six-yard box for Beckford to side foot in.
It was a great way for Beckford to mark his return to action after five weeks out with a severe inner ear infection.
Oldham: Kean, B Wilson (Jacobs 46), Dieng, J Wilson, Brown, Kelly, Kusunga (Lockwood 82), Poleon, Murphy (Turner 69), Jones, Philliskirk. Subs not used: Truelove, Bove, Touhy, Coleman.
PNE: Johnstone, Wiseman, Huntington, Wright, Laird, Humphrey (Ebanks-Blake 79), Welsh, Johnson, Gallagher (Kilkenny 70), Robinson, Garner (Beckford 70). Subs not used: Davies,Woods, Reid, Stuckmann.
Booked: Huntington 4, Johnstone 54, Humphrey 76
Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)
Attendance: 5,935 (2,117 PNE)