Ryan Fraser’s sensational strike punished a miss-firing PNE side as Ipswich triumphed 2-1 at Deepdale.
North End had 16 attempts on goal but only five efforts on target as clinical Ipswich rippled the back of the net twice despite only creating four opportunities.
Brett Pitman opened the scoring against the run of play as he out-foxed PNE’s defence and nodded home in the 25th minute.
Daniel Johnson coolly levelled in the 37th minute as he pounced on Chris Humphrey’s cross and stormed one-on-one with Dean Gerken. The midfield maestro slotted the ball home in sublime fashion to give North End a deserved goal before the break.
But Fraser stole the show with a peach of a goal in the 65th minute. The Town man curled the ball past PNE’s diving keeper Jordan Pickford.
Joe Garner looked to have levelled in the 75th minute but the referee ruled that the striker had deliberately handled the ball as it appeared to just cross the line.
Jermaine Beckford made his first appearance of the season soon after but North End could not find an equaliser as league leaders Ipswich ended the Lilywhites’ unbeaten run.
Will Keane missed the match due to picking up a knock to his leg but Beckford was named on the bench after recovering from a knee knock.
Neil Kilkenny came into the side as PNE boss Simon Grayson switched to a 4-3-3 with Tom Clarke at right back and Humphrey and Paul Gallagher supporting Garner.
PNE started brightly and were practically camped in Ipswich’s half in the opening 20 minutes.
A superb flick-on from Garner teed-up Humphrey in the box but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.
And moments later Gallagher’s corner fizzed into the box but Paul Huntington’s powerful header flew agonisingly over the bar.
Garner just beat Christophe Berra to the ball, four yards out at the near post but his header sailed just wide in the 12th minute.
Greg Cunningham headed the ball into the path of Gallagher and the forward unleashed a thunderous strike that fierce strike that was too hot for Gerken to handle as he parried it away.
Seconds later Garner challenged for a loose ball with Gerken in the bow it trickled into the path of Gallagher but referee Mark Brown ruled Garner fouled the keeper just as Gallagher was about to fire the trigger.
Garner was in the action again, relishing playing up top with Humphrey and Gallagher as he found space outside box but his low shot just skimmed wide in the 19th minute.
But Ipswich scored from their first meaningful attack in the 25th minute. The clinical Tractor Boys took the lead completely against the run of play as Brett Pitman pounced on Freddie Sears cross and headed past Pickford.
Cunningham appeared to tweak his hamstring in the 32nd minute and was replaced by Calum Woods.
After eight unsuccessful attempts North End finally rippled the back of the net as Johnson was unleashed by Humphrey. The midfielder was cool as a cucumber as he ran one-on-one with Gerken and smashed the ball into the back of the net in the 37th minute.
Ipswich started the second 45 well but Woods was on hand to make a fine clearance at the back post and nod Ryan Fraser’s cross over the bar from just two yards out.
Sears teed-up David McGoldrick in the 61st minute. The striker got half a yard on Huntington but his fierce shot just dipped over the bar and moments later Garner snatched at a chance and fired way wide from distance.
And the visitor’s took the lead in sensational fashion as Fraser expertly curled the ball past a diving Pickford in the 65th minute.
The ball pinged around Ipswich’s box as Clarke and Garner tried to bury it and as it flew out of the box the cross back in nearly saw PNE draw level. Huntington’s header was tipped into the path of Garner by Gerken but the striker had no room to manoeuvre and smashed the ball straight at the keeper.
Garner nearly levelled as he pounced on Humphrey’s cross in the 75th minute and the ball appeared to just cross the line but the referee gave Ipswich a free-kick as Garner appeared to deliberately handle to ball.
And moments later Beckford came off the bench to a rousing reception at Deepdale.
Bailey Wright was booked for an alleged foul on substitute Ainsley Maitland-Niles just outside the box in the 77th minute.
Beckford knocked the ball down to Garner in the 90th minute but the striker’s long range effort was easily collected by Gerken.
PNE: Pickford, Clarke, Huntington, Wright, Cunningham, Welsh, Kilkenny(Beckford, 75) Johnson, Gallagher (Reid, 82) Humphrey, Garner. Subs not used: Kirkland, Vermijl, Woods, Browne, Brownhill.
Ipswich: Gerken, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse, Douglas, Fraser (Toure, 85) Sears (Emmanuel, 90), McGoldrick (Maitland-Niles, 62), Pitman. Subs not used: Crowe, Kenlock, Tabb, Coke.
Referee: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire)
Attendance: 10,810 (960 away)