Hull boss Grant McCann dedicated his side’s winning return to the Sky Bet Championship to their travelling fans, after they thrashed Preston 4-1 at Deepdale.
Last season’s League One champions fell behind to Emil Riis Jakobsen’s instinctive eighth-minute finish but Keane Lewis-Potter latched onto Richie Smallwood’s flick to equalise 10 minutes before the break.
The hosts stepped up a gear after the restart with Tom Barkhuizen and Ched Evans both testing Tigers goalkeeper Matt Ingram. However, on the counter-attack, Smallwood created an angle on the edge of the box and fired a deflected drive past Daniel Iversen.
As Preston pushed forward Hull enjoyed more success in front of goal, and Josh Magennis and Andy Cannon netted late on to ensure a happy trip home for the away supporters.
McCann said: “The fans were excellent for us today, right from the start. It is so important to have them back in grounds.
“I think over 2,000 of them travelled across in total and that is brilliant. To be able to go over and celebrate with the fans at the end of the game was great.
“I am so pleased with the performance today and the lads deserved this result on their return to the Championship.
“All the players gave their all out there but our captain Richie Smallwood was excellent all game. I told him that I thought it was his best ever performance in a Hull shirt.
“I think he and a few others have something personal to prove in this division and they’ve made a strong start.”
There could be further good news for Tigers fans in the coming days as McCann revealed the Yorkshire side are holding talks with former midfielder Tom Huddlestone early next week.
He added: “His future is something we are looking at and we want him here.
“We will sit down for talks on Monday but we know we’re not the only club interested in him.”
Frankie McAvoy’s first match as permanent Preston boss did not end in the manner he would have wanted, although his hopes of improving last season’s miserable home record looked promising in the early stages.
Shortly after Riis Jakobsen’s opener, Lilywhites goalkeeper Declan Rudd was forced off with concussion and Hull quickly gained a foothold in the contest.
Preston’s push for a second goal opened up space for Hull to exploit them in emphatic style, and McAvoy admitted his team will have to quickly pick themselves up for their EFL Cup tie at Mansfield in midweek.
He said: “The supporters were excellent today and they gave us their full support but I am bitterly disappointed to be on the end of a poor result. I apologise to the fans for that and we will go away and work on this.
“I thought we started well and got the goal. But after we scored, we got too defensive and it became difficult.
“After half-time we had a good start and looked threatening and made two great chances, but we didn’t take them and got punished.
“The second goal for them was unlucky for us, with the deflections, but the third and fourth were poor defensively from us.
“Losing Declan Rudd early on was an issue. But there is an assessment process to go through with concussion and that decided it.”
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