Fleetwood Town were almost made to pay for their caution in a stunning derby day potboiler at Highbury.
Town failed to muster a shot on target in more than an hour - falling behind after just nine minute when Daniel Johnso rifled home from the edge of the box.
The hosts were lucky to keep it to one at the break - Jermaine Beckford spurning a golden opportunity on the stroke of half time, slipped in by Paul Gallagher but chipping straight into the arms of Chris Maxwell.
The second half began with North End still on top, the wind almost wrong-footing Maxwell from a Gallagher free kick, the ball just turned around the post.
But a penalty decision, against Town when Jamie Proctor’s effort looked to have been blocked by an outstrectetched arm, fired the hosts up.
And they gradually found a foothold before an eight minute stoppage as Paul Huntington was stretchered off the field.
Town’s stride was not broken and with 85 minutes gone they levelled, Ashley Hunter starting a move down the right, sub David Ball taking over and launching an audacious lob which dropped in off the back post.
Hunter almost sealed it for Town mid-way through 12 minutes of added time, keeping Jamie Proctor’s break going and forcing a good save from Sam Johnstone.
Then the ball broke luckily to Ball, Highbury rising as he strode forward, the trigged pulled too late, a crucial block by Laird denying Fleetwood the winner.