Chesterfield came back from three down inside half an hour to grab a dramatic point with a last minute penalty from Eoin Doyle.
That spot kick marked the Irishman’s second hat-trick in four days to take his seasonal tally to 11 goals already.
Teenagers Alan Browne and Josh Brownhill, recalled to the North End starting line-up, sandwiched a fifth goal of the season by Joe Garner as hosts North End raced to a 3-0 lead but Doyle and his team showed their spirit to grab an incredible point.
Paul Cook surprised no-one when he selected a team with just one change, Villa loanee Daniel Johnson came in for hamstring victim Gary Roberts.
Former Spireite hero Kevin Davies was on the bench for a Lillywhites side who last lost at home in a league match just before last Christmas.
Chesterfield won the game’s first corner as Doyle burst clear on the counter attack but Johnson’s delivery was a tad too deep for Ian Evatt whilst North End’s first early sortie forwards saw Browne’s downward header bounce well for Tommy Lee.
Paul Gallagher saw a shot on the turn blocked for a corner and from the second phase of the set play the ball was delivered in by Hayhurst for Browne to head home from close range to register only his second senior goal.
Doyle got a touch on Johnson’s fine pass but keeper Jamie Jones was positioned well to gather but within seconds Spireites fell further behind.
Dan Jones’s header back to Lee was weak and the keeper had to advance rapidly and punch clear. His contact was poor and the ball fell for Garner who rounded the stranded Lee and rolled home from the right side of the box.
More disappointing defending by Spireites, temporarily down to ten men, saw Garner deliver the ball across the six and Brownhill stabbed home from close range.
Jay O’Shea came on for the injured Jones.
The defensive woes suffered at the Chesterfield end spread along the park and keeper Jamie Jones and defender Bailey Wright got into a mix and Doyle chipped over the two prone figures for his 9th goal of the season.
O’Shea hit wide soon after the restart following Spireites’ most confident move of the night to that point and that was the start to a period of decent Chesterfield pressure, Ian Evatt headed across the face of goal from a corner and Morsy hit high from 20 yards.
Hayhurst hit high as the game started to turn nasty.
Evatt was booked, Garner over reacted and he too was soon booked for a foul on Tendayi Darikwa whilst Morsy and Brownhill had their own private little off the ball battle.
Preston made a double change to try and shore things up as Spireites began to boss possession, but the visitors weren’t able to threaten Jones’s goal anywhere near enough until late on when Doyle converted Johnson’s inch perfect cross from the left and then Johnson’s last gasp cross was handled and Doyle made no mistake to end the drama.
Preston: Jones 6; Woods 6, Clarke 7, Wright 6, Buchanan 7; Kilkenny 6 (King 66, 6); Gallagher 6 (Robinson 66, 6), Brownhill 7, Browne 7, Hayhurst 6 (Reid 84); Garner 8. Subs (not used): Stuckmann, Laird, Wiseman, Davies.
Goals: Browne 7, Garner 15, Brownhill 28
Chesterfield: Lee 6; Darikwa 7, Evatt 6, Margreitter 6 (Banks 77), Jones 5 (O’Shea 29, 6); Ryan 6, Morsy 7; Boco 6 (Gnanduillet 70), Johnson 8, Clucas 6; Doyle 9. Subs (not used): Chapman, Raglan, Humphreys, Ariyibi.
Goals: Doyle 31, 79, 90 (pen)