North End fell to defeat at the KC Stadium despite a spirited performance, a piece of luck for Abel Hernandez and a close range volley from Curtis Davies giving Steve Bruce’s side the win.
Hernandez got a piece of luck eight minutes before the break when Neil Kilkenny’s clearance off the line ricocheted off the Uruguayan into the back of the net – the £9m striker knowing very little about it. Then, despite North End dominating possession in the last 20 minutes, Davies fired home Clucas’ corner from six yards out to give the Tigers the points with eight minutes left.
The Lilywhites made just one change from the team that played their last league game, at home to Ipswich, Greg Cunningham replaced by Calum Woods at left back.
It was the visitors who started the brighter of the two teams, Neil Kilkenny spreading the play wide to the right hand side to Chris Humphrey; he drove down the right flank, checked inside and unleashed effort towards top left corner that McGregor tipped round the post for a corner. From Paul Gallagher’s cross Joe Garner’s header was cleared off the line by Michael Dawson.
Steve Bruce’s side had caused very few problems in the opening half hour, Moses Odubajo dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box in the first real attempt from the home side 30 minutes in.
However, against the run of play it was the Tigers who took the lead. A corner from the right by David Meyler came to the back post and Kilkenny cleared the ball but it ricocheted off Abel Hernandez and bounced into the net – a very unfortunate break for the Lilywhites.
But despite having more the play, it was again Hull who could have extended their lead before half-time. It took a brilliant save from Jordan Pickford to keep it at one, denying Hernandez a second after Michael Dawson’s ricocheted shot from 30 yards had fallen into his path clean through 12 yards out, the North End backline were claiming offside, but Pickford stayed tall and made a superb block to deny the frontman.
The second half began with North End on the front foot, Gallagher cleverly reversing the ball for Johnson down the left flank, whose shot was blocked by Curtis Davies, McGregor scrambling back to claim on his line.
With 16 minutes left North End played a superb spell of quick, passing football that eventually resulted in Gallagher delivering from the right for substitute Alan Browne’s late run into the box, but the Irishman couldn’t keep his header down and was inches over the bar from six yards out.
But despite North End being on top it was the home side who doubled their lead, Curtis Davies powering home a volley from six yards out from Sam Clucas’ left wing corner with eight minutes remaining.
The second goal knocked the stuffing out of what had been a gutsy performance from the Lilywhites and the home side were able to play out the reminder of the game with relative comfort handing PNE their first away defeat of the season.
Hull City line-up: McGregor, Odubajo, Davies, Meyler, Hernandez (Aluko, 71), Clucas, Diame (Maloney, 70), Akpom (Hayden, 83), Dawson (c), Robertson, Elmohamady. Subs not used: Jakupovic, Bruce, Huddlestone, Luer.
PNE line-up: Pickford, Clarke (c), Woods (Vermijl, 84), Welsh (Browne, 70), Huntington, Wright, Humphrey (Keane, 70), Kilkenny, Johnson, Garner, Gallagher. Subs not used: Kirkland, Reid, Brownhill, Hugill.
Attendance: 16,949 (1,335 away fans)
Referee: Mr F Graham