Joe Garner capitalized from a goalkeeping howler to secure a narrow 1-0 victory over Hearts at Deepdale.
Garner, who was PNE’s top scorer last season, punished Hearts keeper Neil Alexander for a sliced clearance by heading home in the 64th minute.
Paul Huntington’s close range header was cleared off the line before Jermaine Beckford thought he had won a penalty only for referee Darren Handley to wave away the protests.
PNE manager Simon Grayson said: “It was a good workout for both teams, a good crowd, and really satisfying that Hearts have brought as many people as they have done.”
Neil Kilkenny wasn’t in the side after picking up a slight knock against Bamber Bridge whilst Kyel Reid was unavailable due to tonsillitis.
Jermaine Beckford almost contributed to North End’s opening goal after the striker was upended outside the box earning his side a free kick.
Huntington met Johnson’s delivery with a powerful header at the back post but Sean McKirdy kept the scores level with a goal-line clearance.
30 minutes played and Blazej Augustyn appeared fortunate not to concede a penalty kick after tripping Beckford in the box but the referee wasn’t interested.
Into the second half, and the visitors had two chances in quick succession; first winning a header in the box only for Clarke to clear the danger.
Then Paterson failed to atone his earlier miss by heading the ball over inside the six-yard box from a corner kick.
Garner finally broke the deadlock in the 64th minutes, capitalizing on Alexander’s error before hitting a powerful header towards goal.
The Scottish keeper still managed to scramble back and punch the ball away but the referee adjudged the ball to have crossed the line and North End had the lead.
With just a few minutes left, Andy Little nearly added a second after seeing his shot just edge wide of the top left corner.
PNE: Jones, Clarke, Wright (Davies, 67) Huntington (Heaton, 85), Woods (Anderton, 77), Welsh (Brownhill, 67), Johnson, Gallagher (Browne, 67), Keane (Hugill, 67), Garner (Ryan, 77), Beckford (Little, 67). Subs not used: James.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, McHattie, McGhee, Augustyn, Pallardo (Anderson, 51), McKirdy (Smith, 85), Nicholson, King, Walker, Sow (Reilly, 59). Subs not used: Hamilton, Ozturk, Oliver, Buaben, El Hassanoui, Morgaro.
Referee: Darren Handley (Lancashire)