Free-flowing and pleasing on the eye in the first half, they all but had the victory sewn up by half-time.
For the second period, PNE adopted a more cautious approach, concentrating on protecting the lead and doing the ‘horrible things’ as Billy Jones described it.
Jones had helped put them into the position where they could spoil the game, bursting through from right-back to net the second goal.
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The first had come from the trusty boot of Neil Mellor, the result never particularly in doubt once the striker had knocked in Chris Sedgwick’s inviting cross with only eight minutes gone.
In truth, Preston’s play merited more than the two-goal win. They had the ball in the net on two further occasions only to be thwarted by the linesman’s flag, then Ross Wallace somehow missed an open goal from six yards.
The one downside of the afternoon’s events was the broken leg suffered by Barry Nicholson.
His clash on the half-way line with GeorgeBoyd – judged to be a foul by Nicholson – seemed innocuous enough but the audible crack signalled that considerable damage had been done.
We put the decision of referee David Webb to show Nicholson a yellow card as he was being stretchered off, down to inexperience, as it was the official’s first game at Championship level.
There was still plenty to be cheerful about as Preston clinched victory in the sunshine.
The defence looked solid and weren’t overly stretched by Posh’s lauded strike force of Craig Mackail Smith, Aaron McLean andBoyd which spread out across the pitch.
Sean St Ledger excelled against his former club, with Liam Chilvers again impressive alongside him in the centre of defence.
Either side of them, Jones and Callum Davidson worked tirelessly,with Jones in particular shining on the right. The surprise inclusion of Sedgwick at the expense of Paul Parry on the right-wing ended up working a treat.
With Posh forced to play the right-footed Charlie Lee at left-back, Irvine felt Parry’s liking for cutting inside would have made Lee’s afternoon a more comfortable one.
So Sedgwick got the nod to start with the instruction to go on the outside, and Lee was given a torrid time before his 33rd-minute substitution spared him further punishment. The damage had been done by then, with Sedgwick the chief supplier for North End’s eighth minute opener.
He got to the byline after beating Lee on the right-hand side of the box, and pulled the ball back for MELLOR to side-foot home at the near post.
It was a lead which was doubled after half an hour, with Mellor turning provider with a lovely defence-splitting pass which allowed JONES to run into the box and power a shot over Posh keeper Joe Lewis.
Jones said: “That was my first goal when I’ve been playing at right-back for Preston.
“Lastseason the three I scored were all from midfield.
“I’m always being encouraged to get forward but at times Peterborough were all over the place so there was space to get in behind them.
“I was trying to beat their keeper at the front post and was happy to see the ball go in.
“Some of the lads were saying it was a shanked cross but I would like to think I’ve got better technique then that.
“We put on a good display in the first half.”