Preston returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory at struggling Huddersfield.

Skipper Alan Browne and Will Keane gave Ryan Lowe’s side a 2-0 interval lead.

Danny Ward’s first goal of the season hinted at a second-half revival for opponents still hovering just above the drop zone.

But instead, Ben Whiteman’s 66th-minute goal wrapped up a first win in five for the Lancashire outfit and one-time leaders of the division.

It proved a good night too for ex-Terrier Duane Holmes, who claimed two assists on his return to the John Smith’s Stadium to help end Town’s draw-peppered, four-game unbeaten run.

Preston’s recent profligacy in front of goal had contributed to their drop from their lofty early-season position.

But within the opening three minutes Browne fired fractionally wide, had a strong appeal for a penalty rejected and then headed in North End’s first goal in four games – just their second in five.

Holmes crossed from the left and Browne glanced in his third goal of the campaign.

The stunned Terriers almost responded immediately. Delano Burgzorg powered forward but his angled drive could not beat Freddie Woodman at his near post.

A brace of Whiteman blocks protected Woodman from further action while Josh Koroma miscued a right-foot curled effort as the visitors briefly relinquished control.

But normal service was soon restored with North End bossing possession and then six minutes from half-time deservedly doubling their advantage.

Lively Liam Millar collected the ball just inside the home half and raced towards the area before playing a delicious pass with the outside of his right foot into Keane’s path.

The striker took aim immediately and directed a shot beyond ex-Preston and Blackpool keeper Chris Maxwell for his fifth goal of the campaign and his first since September 2.

Huddersfield fans responded with boos and then again at the break. Boss Darren Moore had also lost patience, taking off Tom Lees, Josh Austerfield and Koroma at half-time and replacing them with Yuta Nakayama, Ben Wiles and Jaheim Headley.

The triple substitution did the trick and nine minutes later Town reduced their deficit. Matty Pearson supplied a cross from the Preston left and Ward, three days after his 33rd birthday, rose unchallenged to open his account for the campaign.

Ward, sidelined for a large part of this season with Achilles trouble, had not scored since a winner against Sheffield United last May to keep his club in the second tier.

It was almost the striker’s last contribution as Brahima Diarra replaced him for the final half hour.

But after looking vulnerable, the Lilywhites confirmed the three points. Millar and Holmes combined to tee-up Whiteman to guide a right-foot shot beyond Maxwell for his second goal of the term.