Hull kicked off their hotly-anticipated return to Sky Bet Championship football in style with an emphatic 4-1 win at Preston.
The 2020-21 League One champions were ruthless in front of goal at Deepdale, as Keane Lewis-Potter and Richie Smallwood struck either side of the break before a late double from Josh Magennis and Andy Cannon ensured a winning return for Grant McCann’s side.
Preston did enjoy the better attacking possession in the opening stages with Emil Riis Jakobsen’s instinctive finish deservedly putting them in front in the eighth minute, but the hosts were ultimately handed a losing start to the campaign.
Tom Barkhuizen took advantage of some static Hull defending inside their own box to slide a dangerous ball across the face of goal and Jakobsen reacted quickest to stab home unopposed at the back post.
Despite their positive start on home soil, Frankie McAvoy’s side struggled to build on that momentum as goalkeeper Declan Rudd was forced off with concussion and Hull quickly gained a foothold in the contest.
Lewis-Potter’s pace in behind caused growing problems for the Lilywhites defence throughout the opening half hour and he was rewarded on 35 minutes as he confidently latched onto Smallwood’s flick to tuck the ball past substitute keeper Daniel Iversen.
But despite ending the first half under pressure, Preston reacted positively and stepped up a gear after the restart, with Barkhuizen being denied twice in quick succession.
The former Morecambe striker’s long-range effort was expertly tipped over the bar by Tigers keeper Matt Ingram, who bravely denied him again seconds later after a defensive error.
The hosts continued to pile forward, with Ched Evans flicking a header narrowly wide before Sepp Van Den Berg’s knockdown was scrambled off the line by two Hull defenders.
However, with Preston unable to make their dominance count, Hull caught them on the counter-attack just past the hour mark as Smallwood created an angle on the edge of the box and fired a deflected drive past Iversen.
That breakthrough opened the game up in the closing stages, as Preston battled hard for a late equaliser, but the impressive Ingram was on hand again to keep out Evans.
As Preston committed more players forward in search of a second goal, Grant McCann’s men showed their prowess on the break.
Lewis-Potter showed great patience to hold the ball up on the counter and his clever cross into the box was steered home by Northern Ireland international Magennis.
Cannon pounced on some more slack Preston defending inside their own box to lash home a fourth goal from a tight angle, via a deflection, in added time.
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