Mallik Wilks’ third goal in a black and amber shirt had seen the Tigers ahead at half-time, only for promotion-chasing Preston to hit back after the break, levelling the scores through Paul Gallagher’s penalty before substitute Alan Browne headed home to secure for all three points for the hosts.
Grant McCann made four changes to his side following the 4-4 draw with Swansea City on home soil last time out. Jordy de Wijs and Reece Burke were both recalled to the starting line-up, with the duo playing alongside each other at the heart of the back four for the first time in six weeks.
Tom Eaves was rewarded for his stoppage-time equaliser off the bench against the Swans with a place in the Tigers’ attack, which meant Josh Magennis switched to a wide left role. George Honeyman was also handed a recall to the starting line-up in midfield. Jon Toral was named on the bench, where he was joined by Norbert Balogh for only the second time in 2020.
It was a fairly scrappy opening period to the game, with the blustery conditions playing a huge part. The Tigers did force three early corners as they showed the first signs of attacking intent from either side, but failed to seriously work the home defence on each occasion from Honeyman’s deliveries.
Preston won their first corner of the game on 11 minutes when Andrew Hughes’ cross was deflected behind by Matthew Pennington. However, George Long brought an end to the danger when claiming Sean Maguire’s delivery in commanding fashion.
The first attempt on goal of the afternoon arrived for minutes later. Wilks was the one to fire a low effort on target from outside the box after turning nicely to create space but Declan Rudd was on hand to make a comfortable save low to his left.
McCann’s side fashioned their best opportunity of the opening 20 minutes when Honeyman’s low centre was played into the path of Wilks by Magennis inside the box. The on-loan winger opted to shoot first time but could only guide his effort high over the bar.
Wilks was in the thick of the action once again shortly after. Neat passing play involving Lopes, Honeyman and Wilks carved out on opening for the latter, with his effort from a tight angle pushed behind by Rudd.
With the action now very much end-to-end, it was the home side who went agonisingly close to taking the lead. Paul Gallagher’s ball into the box from the left flank found Maguire, whose glancing header drifted narrowly wide of the far post.
Eaves sent a header of his own from Honeyman’s superb free-kick wide of the target before Long was called upon to produce a fine save to keep out Tom Barkhuizen’s header, with the Preston man firing the rebound high over the bar.
The breakthrough finally came five minutes before the break – and it went the way of the Tigers. A quickly-taken corner caught out the home defence and Callum Elder’s superb cross was guided home by the head of Wilks to give his side a one-goal lead which they took into the break.
A tense start to the second period saw little action in either penalty box until the 53rd minute. Wilks’ deep cross was headed back into the six-yard box by Magennis but no-one in black and amber was there to capitalise, with Ben Davies able to clear the danger for the home side.
Preston went close to an equaliser ten minutes after the restart when Gallagher’s pass picked out the run of Fisher. He squared the ball to Maguire only for Burke to produce a fantastic clearance off the line to prevent the Irishman’s effort from crossing the line.
Honeyman picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon for a cynical foul on Josh Harrop before Alex Neil introduced Alan Browne and Jayden Stockley into the action in place of Scott Sinclair and Maguire just before the hour mark.
McCann was then forced into a change of his own shortly after when Eaves was on the receiving end a rash challenge from behind inside his own half. Despite no free-kick being given, the front-man left the pitch on a stretcher and was replaced by Toral.
The hosts were handed the chance to equalise from the penalty spot on 66 minutes when Fisher went down under a joint challenge from Elder and Magennis and. Gallagher made no mistake from twelve yards.
Things went from bad to worse for the Tigers when Preston took the lead just six minutes later. Substitute Stockley’s left-wing cross picked out Browne in the middle and he dispatched an unstoppable header past Long from close-range.
McCann’s second substitution saw Balogh replace Honeyman on 77 minutes as the Tigers’ Head Coach went in search of a route back into the game but it was who the hosts who continued to look the more threatening in the final third, with Pearson driving forward before dragging a low effort wide of the target.
Pennington joined Honeyman in the referee’s notebook before a lengthy stoppage in-play to allow Burke to receive treatment for a head injury. Thankfully, the centre-back was able to return to the action and play resumed before Gallagher was replaced by Brad Potts in the hosts’ third and final change of the afternoon.
Balogh wasted a decent opportunity to score his first goal for the club when firing over from 14 yards after connecting with Lopes’ low centre moments before the fourth official indicated there would be a minimum of seven minutes stoppage-time.
Preston were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Tigers’ box in the third minute of additional time after Harrop was brought down by de Wijs, who was booked for his trouble. Harrop’s curling free-kick was tipped over the bar by Long, with Stockley heading over from the resulting corner as Tigers’ winless run continued.
Preston North End: Declan Rudd, Darnell Fisher, Ben Pearson, Ben Davies, Josh Harrop, Paul Gallagher (Brad Potts 88), Andrew Hughes, Patrick Bauer, Sean Maguire (Jayden Stockley 58), Tom Barkhuizen, Scott Sinclair (Alan Browne 58).
Subs Not Used: Connor Ripley, Tom Clarke, Joe Rafferty, David Nugent.
Hull City: George Long, Jordy de Wijs, Reece Burke, Tom Eaves (Jon Toral 64), George Honeyman (Norbert Balogh 77), Matthew Pennington, Callum Elder (Marcus Maddison 90), Josh Magennis, Jackson Irvine, Leonardo Da Silva Lopes, Mallik Wilks.
Subs Not Used: Matt Ingram, Kevin Stewart, Marcus Maddison, Robbie McKenzie, Sean McLoughlin.
Att: 12,342 (inc 721 Hull City fans)
Referee: Mr S Martin