David Moyes’ men made the trip down the M61 on the back on a 12-game unbeaten run in Division Two.
Awaiting them was a Bury side – with Neil Warnock at the helm – who were eight matches without defeat.
It was North End whose record was left intact thanks to a 3-1 win, delivered by goals from Michael Jackson, Sean Gregan and Jonathan Macken.
More than 3,000 Preston supporters were there to see it, making up around half of the crowd.
Victory sent them joint top of the table, behind Wigan only on goal difference.
This win and one the road at Luton four days earlier, saw them claw back four points on Wigan.
There was a very physical undercurrent to this contest from the word go.
Gregan got a whack on the head with just 12 seconds played, an injury which needed running repairs during the first half.
There was an early yellow card for Bury’s Darren Bullock which would prove costly for him later.
North End took the lead in the 24th minute, with the build-up to it being a long shot from Rob Edwards which Shakers keeper Paddy Kenny tipped over.
David Eyres’ resulting corner was swung over to the far post where Jackson climbed to head home.
It was a special moment for the centre-half who was making his first trip back to Gigg Lane since leaving Bury to sign for PNE in March 1997.
Bullock got his second yellow card and then a red in the 33rd minute for catching Graham Alexander in the face with his arm.
His earlier caution had been for similar against Mark Rankine.
Late in the first half, Lee Cartwright sent a volley across the face of goal and wide of the far post, while Kurt Nogan saw a shot blocked.
Preston goalkeeper Tepi Moilanen was rarely troubled in the first half but seven minutes after the break, has his gloves warmed by Lutel James’ shot from 25 yards.
PNE went 2-0 ahead in the 56th minute, another Eyres corner setting it up.
This time he played it to the near post where the ball bounced against Gregan’s backside.
As it spun up in the air, Gregan turned to hammer a shot into the roof of the net from close range.
Bury halved the deficit seven minutes, Ian Lawson curling a beauty of a finish beyond Moilanen.
North End restored their two-goal cushion with 73 minutes on the clock.
Shakers defender Chris Swailes played a back pass to Kenny who came out to kick clear but had an horrendous first touch controlling it.
The ball cannoned against Macken who was closing down, the ball looping back over Kenny.
PNE: Moilanen, Alexander, Jackson, Kidd, Edwards, Cartwright (Appleton 73), Gregan, Rankine, Eyres (Gunnlaugson 82), Nogan, Macken (Mathie 78). Subs (not used): Murdock, Lucas.
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