Four goal hero Joe Garner stole the show as Preston North End thumped Crewe Alexandra 5-1 at Deepdale.
Garner ensured PNE maintained their grip on second spot in the League One table by treating the home faithful to a striking master-class.
As PNE squandered several opportunities the clinical striker moved his tally to 20 with a low thunderbolt, a signature header, yet another wonder goal and a cheeky tap-in.
Garner rippled the back of the net in the 11th minute as he drilled a low shot past Paul Rachubka.
The striker pounced on Paul Gallagher’s peachy cross in the 24th minute sweetly heading the ball back across goal.
Out of the blue Crewe pulled one back as defender Oliver Turton curled the ball past PNE keeper Sam Johnstone.
Garner sealed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute with yet another world class strike. The maestro made the crowd wait as he danced around the top of the box before unleashing yet another show-stopper into the top left hand corner.
The striker’s fourth and 20th strike of the season was a simple tap-in. Jermaine Beckford’s shot kissed the post before rebounding into the path of Garner who fired home from three-yards out in the 80th minute.
Beckford had a goal disallowed but his luck finally came in two minutes later as the striker fired in PNE’s fifth.
PNE started lively, Gallagher beat the offside trap in the ninth minute and ran through on goal but Rachubka dived low to his left to deny the forward.
Tom Clarke’s header flew wide of the left post and Daniel Johnson rattled the right post with a superb strike.
But seconds later Garner opened the scoring with a fierce low strike. The striker released the trigger just inside the box and his right-footed strike flew past Rachubka in the 11th minute.
Gallagher’s put the ball on a plate for Garner to bag his 18th goal of the season with an inch perfect left wing cross. The striker pounced on the teasing cross at the back post and sweetly headed the ball past Rachubka in the 24th minute.
The ball pinged around Crewe’s box before eventually falling to Beckford with his back to goal in the six-yard box. The striker spun and shot but his effort was cleared off the line by Anthony Grant.
Out of the blue Crewe fought back and reduced the deficit. Oliver Turton marauded into the PNE box and curled the ball past Johnstone in the 34th minute.
Johnson shot saved by Rachubka in the 50th minute and Gallagher blasted the ball over the bar minutes later.
Beckford beat Rachubka with a sweet chip but Harry Davis recovered the clear the ball off the line in the 55th minute.
Seconds later Haber rippled the back of the net but fortunately for PNE referee Chris Kavanagh disallowed the goal due to a foul in the build up.
Beckford fired wide from six-yards and finally got the ball in the back of the net in the 64th minute. But the goal was disallowed due to a foul on a Crewe player.
And Garner completed his treble in style in the 72nd minute with a sensational strike. The forward picked the ball up on the left of the box, took his time, before digging the ball out of his feet and lifting the ball into the top right corner.
And the in-form hit-man added a fourth in the 80th minute. Beckford beat the keeper but his shot rattled the post and rebounded to the feet of Garner who tapped home with ease.
Beckford latched on to Gallagher’s aerial ball in the box before slotting the ball past Rachubka in the 82nd minute.
PNE: Johnstone, Laird, Clarke, Wright, Beckford (Ebanks-Blake, 83), Gallagher, Garner, Welsh (Kilkenny,75) Huntington, Johnson, Robinson (Humphrey, 70). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Davies, Woods, Little.
Crewe: Rachubka, Guthrie, Davis, Ray, Turton, Jones (Atkinson, 74), Haber, Ness, Tate (Cooper, 65) Ajose (Ikpeazu, 65) Grant. Subs not used: Dalla Valle, Nolan, Baillie, Stewart.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester)
Attendance: 10,203 (433 Crewe)