Hartlepool boss Neale Cooper was seething with his side's profligacy as Adam Barton's strike gave Preston the points at Deepdale.
Pools dominated the first-half, missing five clear chances, and even in injury-time when presented with four quick openings to level they managed to waste them all.
Colin Nish was denied by goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann, saw his rebound cleared off the line, and then Andy Monkhouse twice wasted chances with his head.
"We played some really good stuff, but have to put the ball in the net," said Cooper. "We were so dominant in the first-half and we have to be out of sight - we could have been five-up at half-time.
"It's so frustrating and I'm angry at the opportunity missed. We dominated so much and came away with nothing.
"We need better quality in the box and we don't attack the second balls in there. I'm angry as we have to finish teams off - I'm not angry with the effort, but that we can't finish them off."