But Craig Brown's side had no answer as Portsmouth hit back with strikes from Steve Stone, Paul Merson and Matthew Taylor enough to clinch a seventh home with in eight games this season, to preserve their unbeaten record on the South Coast.
Stone, on a month's loan from Aston Villa, levelled the scores in the 23rd minute whenhe slid in at the far post to convert Taylor's inviting cross from the left.
Merson was then on hand to give Pompey the lead from the penalty spot three minutes later after Frenchman Vincent Pericard had been up-ended in the area by Rob Edwards.
And Taylor extended their advantage before half time when he grabbed his third goal of the season after an unfortunate slip by full-back Graham Alexander.
Alexander fell over as he attempted to cut out Paul Ritchie's through ball allowing Taylor to close in on goal and neatly chip oncoming goalkeeper David Lucas.
Cresswell was unlucky not to reduce the deficit in the 36th minute when he produced a delightful chip to beat goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, but his 20-yard effort rebounded off the post to safety and Portsmouth went into half time with a 3-1 lead.
Alexander put his side back into the game just 40 seconds after the re-start when he converted the second penalty of the night after Ritchie had fouled Mark Rankine.
After that Preston enjoyed plenty of possession, but were unable to make any further breakthrough as Portsmouth held on through a valuable win.