North End struck first through Chris Humphrey and although Tom Pope equalised in the second period, two goals in six second-half minutes from Joe Garner and Paul Gallagher sealed the win, despite another goal from Pope at the death.
It took the Lilywhites a mere 13 minutes to break the deadlock. Kyel Reid, starting a North End match for the first time, swung a cross in from the left which reached Humphrey at the back post, and the Jamaican turned inside before planting a left-footed effort beyond Chris Neal.
The hosts threatened to add a second prior to the break on several occasions – most notably when John Welsh swept narrowly wide – but Tom Clarke, Gallagher and Neil Kilkenny were also unable to follow up Humphrey’s effort.
Vale hit back at the start of the second half through Pope, who levelled the match with a fantastic header from Chris Lines’ 51st-minute free-kick.
Preston almost responded immediately, though, as Welsh’s vicious hit skipped into the side netting and they regained the advantage shortly after the hour mark thanks to a piece of brilliance from Garner. Gallagher fed the 26-year-old on the edge of the area and asked for the one-two, but the prolific striker instead clipped an innovative chip over Neal for his eighth goal of the season.
And Simon Grayson’s side sealed their fourth consecutive triumph moments later when Humphrey’s cut across was tapped in by Gallagher, which meant Pope’s second of the game – another header – was only a late consolation.