Nicky Wroe’s first-half treble secured Preston North End victory over Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park - but only after a nervous finish.
The midfielder struck inside the first 25 seconds and had completed his treble by the 35th minute.
Former PNE loanee Leon Clarke gave the Iron hope four minutes before the interval when he pulled a goal back.
And another ex-North Ender Karl Hawley left the Lilywhites sweating when he further reduced the deficit in the 72nd minute.
The visitors survived an anxious closing spell, Steve Simonsen pulling off a fine 89th minute save to deny Clarke.
But they managed to play out time to secure a third League One away victory of the campaign.
Wroe became the first Preston player to score a first-half treble for more than 19 years, Mike Conroy the last to do so in August 1993.
Graham Westley had made three changes to the North End side.
The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Simonsen in place of Thorsten Stuckmann between the sticks.
Shane Cansdell-Sherriff returned to the side after illness, while Paul Huntington came in to replace Bailey Wright who hadn’t recovered from an ankle injury sustained in last Saturday’s defeat to Sheffield United.
Cansdell-Sherriff was given the left-back shirt, allowing Scott Laird to push forward on to the left-wing.
King moved from the right midfield slot he operated in at the weekend to a role supporting Stuart Beavon up front.
After firing blanks in their last two games, North End wasted no time finding the net with the contest not even half a minute old.
Laird lifted the ball from the left-wing to the edge of the box where King rose to head it into the path of the incoming Wroe who hammered a first-time shot past Sam Slocombe.
In the sixth minute, Beavon almost increased the lead, his low drive from 20 yards brushing the fingertips of Slocombe and travelling just the wrong side of the box.
The action-packed opening spell continued when former Morecambe winger Mark Duffy dispossessed John Welsh on the half-way line and motored towards the PNE box.
He laid the ball square to Clarke whose angled shot was pushed out by Simonsen with Huntington clearing the loose ball.
King sent a daisy-cutter narrowly wide of the target, then later volleyed just over the bar after meeting Jeffrey Monakana’s cross from the right.
North End netted their second goal in some style in the 28th minute, passes exchanged in the midfield before Beavon played the ball out to King who had pulled into space on the right-wing.
His cross was perfectly flighted into the box for Wroe to arrive and steer a shot beyond Slocombe from 12 yards.
A pass across the face of his own box by Iron defender Paul Reid presented Beavon with a chance in the next passage of play.
The striker’s first touch narrowed the angle though, and his low shot was saved by Slocombe diving to his right.
Wroe completed his hat-trick in the 35th minute, the visitors having been awarded a free-kick 25 yards out to the left of goal.
Monakana touched it to Laird, he rolled the ball sideways to Wroe who struck a right-foot shot which deflected off a Scunthorpe boot and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
The hosts reduced the arrears four minutes before the interval, Clarke firing in from close range after Simonsen had pushed out his initial header from a Jimmy Ryan cross.
In time added-on, Monakana skipped inside from the right-wing, but his shot was dealt with at the near post by Slocombe.
The start of the second half didn’t have the same level of intensity as that of the first period.
Neverthless, another piece of good link-up play outside the box between Beavon and King saw Beavon get a shot away, it deflecting behind for a corner.
Westley made his first change of the night in the 67th minute, David Amoo taking the place of Monakana on the right-wing.
Scunthorpe, who had been enjoying the greater share of play in the second half, got themselves right back in contention in the 72nd minute with a second goal.
Hawley picked up possession 20 yards out and curled a fine shot past Simonsen and into the net off the inside of the post.
North End responded with Cansdell-Sherriff poking a shot just wide from close range after King had nodded down a Wroe free-kick.
Beavon dragged an effort from the edge of the box wide, then at the other end, Clarke found space down the left side of the PNE penalty area but a heavy touch allowed Simonsen to slide out and gather.
In the 89th minute, it needed a fine reflex save from Simonsen to push out Clarke’s close-range effort.
His gloves were warmed again moments later, although this time it was a more comfortable gather from a Duffy header.
Sixty seconds into the six minutes of time added-on by referee Michael Naylor, Duffy curled a free-kick just wide.
Substitute Amoo found himself replaced by Joel Byrom as North End looked to run down the clock - something they’d in effect been doing since before Hawley’s goal.
Scunthorpe: Slocombe, Ribeiro, Reid (Mirfin 36), Canavan, Newey, Duffy, Prutton, Gibbons (Collins 46), Ryan (Jennings 72), Clarke, Hawley. Subs: Kennedy, Walker, Grella, Severn.
PNE: Simonsen, Keane, Huntington, Robertson, Cansdell-Sherriff, Monakana (Amoo 67, Byrom 90), Wroe, Welsh, Laird, King, Beavon (Procter 86). Subs: Cummins, Sodje, Beardsley, Stuckmann.
Referee: Michael Naylor (South Yorks)