Paul Gallagher’s cool finish put the icing on the cake for Simon Grayson’s men as they proved they are not a ‘one-man team’ by beating 10-man Yeovil Town 2-0 at Huish Park.
Paul Huntington gave PNE the perfect start as he opened the scoring against his former club in just the fifth minute. The defender rose above the pack to head Gallagher’s fierce corner past Artur Krysiak.
But the Glovers were controversially reduced to 10-men in the 64th minute as Ryan Inniss was sent off for a two footed challenge on Kyel Reid. The on-loan Crystal Palace defender appeared to win the ball but referee Darren Deadman was quick to show the Yeovil man a straight red.
Gallagher and Kevin Davies gave the host’s a counter-attacking master-class late on as the veteran striker’s sublime ball allowed Gallagher to seal victory with a delightful chip.
Substitute Davies unselfishly squeezed the ball through a tight gap as two Yeovil defenders closed in to set the Scot through on goal. Gallagher made no mistake finish the slick move by coolly lifting the ball over Krysiak.
PNE ground out another victory and proved they can still score and win without injured hot-shot Joe Garner.
Striker Jermaine Beckford - who is on-loan from Bolton Wanderers - made his first league start for PNE in top-scorer Garner’s absence.
Garner came off at half-time in North End’s 1-0 victory over league leaders Bristol City last Saturday and is set to be sidelined for four months after detaching a tendon in his knee.
PNE boss Grayson made four changes to the side that knocked Oldham Athletic out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night.
JPT spot-kick hero Thorsten Stuckmann retained his place in goal and kept his second successive league clean sheet days after coolly converting North End’s 11th penalty as they beat Oldham 10-9 in a penalty shoot-out.
Gallagher, Neil Kilkenny David Buchanan and Chris Humphrey all returned to the starting XI in place of Scott Laird, K Davies, Jack King and Josh Brownhill who all moved to the bench.
Young striker Bradley Fewster - who signed on-loan from Middlesbrough on Thursday - was named on the bench but did not feature.
Yeovil started brightly as Samuel Foley’s 25-yard strike just curled over Stuckmann’s bar in the third minute.
But Huntington opened the scoring at his former stomping ground in the fifth minute. The defender lost his marker and rose high unchallenged in the 6-yard box to powerfully head Gallagher’s corner past Krysiak.
Yeovil’s own on-loan Bolton striker Tom Eaves nearly equalised in the 15th minute but his dipping backwards header flew just over Stuckmann’s bar.
Gallagher won the ball in midfield and fired a tempting ball down the channel for Beckford to run on to but the striker was thwarted by Krysiak who ran out to the edge of the box and just gathered the ball before Beckford could pounce.
PNE right back Scott Wiseman dribbled past a host of Yeovil players into the box but his shot took a deflection and ballooned to safety in the 32nd minute.
Tom Clarke was booked for a late one-footed challenge on James Berrett in the 40th minute and Stephen Arthurworrey just headed over PNE’s bar from the subsequent left-wing set-piece.
Just before half-time Foley’s fierce free-kick stung Stuckmann’s palms as the keeper parried the ball to safety.
PNE skipper Welsh took man and ball and was booked for upending his opposite number Glovers captain Joseph Edwards in the 51st minute.
Yeovil boss Gary Johnson brought James Hayter on in the 61st minute and the target-man made an immediate impact teeing up Arthurworrey but the defender’s shot was in vain as he was flagged offside.
But Yeovil were reduced to 10-men as Inniss was shown a straight red despite winning the ball for a two footed challenge on Reid in the 64th minute.
PNE sat back and absorbed Yeovil’s pressure before launching a string of counter-attacks in the closing stages.
Reid advanced down the left before unleashing a fierce strike that Krysiak just got down to block in the 84th minute.
Veteran striker K Davies’ pin-point pass set Gallagher through on goal. Davies slipped the ball through two players with the outside of his foot and Gallagher made no mistake, coolly chipping the ball over the keeper to seal victory in the 90th minute.
PNE: Stuckmann, Wiseman, Clarke, Huntington, Buchanan, Welsh (Brownhill, 76), Kilkenny (King, 70), Humphrey, Gallagher, Reid, Beckford (K Davies, 86). Subs not used: Jones, Laird, Fewster, Browne.
Yeovil: Krysiak, Smith, Edwards, Dawson (Gillett, 83), Berrett (Hayter, 61), Foley, Clarke, Davis (Ralph, 58), Inniss, Arthurworrey, Eaves. Subs not used: Stewart, Moloney, Hayter, Lietch-Smith, Hoskins.
Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)