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A fluke close-range goal and an emphatic Curtis Davies volley sunk PNE as Hull City triumphed 2-0 at the KC Stadium.

The host’s took the lead in freaky fashion as Neil Kilkenny’s clearance off the line bounced back off Abel Hernandez and over the line in the 37th minute.

And Davies sealed the points for Hull as he strode into the box and nearly broke the net with a fierce close range strike in the 82nd minute.

Simon Grayson made four changes to the side that dumped Premier League club Watford out of the League Cup on Tuesday night but the big news before kick-off was the omission of star striker Jermaine Beckford from the team sheet.

After missing the opening four games of the season due to a knee injury Beckford has made cameo appearances from the bench in the last two games.

He was out on the pitch before the clash at the KC Stadium but did not train.

As one striker missed out two more returned to the bench. Will Keane recovered from a knock to his leg to start on the bench and Jordan Hugill returned from a three match suspension to sit on the bench.

Alan Browne, Josh Brownhill Kyel Reid and Tuesday night’s hero Marnick Vermijl all moved to the bench as John Welsh, Chris Humphrey, Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson all returned to the starting XI.

PNE started well as Chris Humphrey stormed into the box from the right wing but his curling shot was just tipped around the post by a diving Allan McGregor.

Chuba Akpom nearly connected with Elmohamady’s cross in the six-yard box but Jordan Pickford just reached the ball, dropped it but reclaimed it with ease.

Joe Garner was booked for simulation in the 19th minute. The striker was honing in on goal toe-to-toe with Michael Dawson and went down under pressure from the big defender but the referee ruled Garner had not been fouled and gave the set-piece to the opposition.

Moses Odubajo sprinted towards the PNE box unleashed the trigger just outside but his shot just skimmed wide of the right post in the 30th minute.

Hull took the lead in fortuitous fashion from a corner. The ball was flicked on into the path of Hernandez who poked the ball towards goal. Kilkenny appeared to be on hand to clear it off the line at the back post but he kicked the ball straight at Hernandez and the ball looped home in the 37th minute.

Hernandez blasted a set-piece from a tasty position just outside the box way over and should have made it two just before the half-time whistle.

Dawson’s long range effort deflected into the path of an unmarked Hernandez 10-yards out but fortunately his shot flew straight at Pickford.

PNE started brightly after the break. Johnson raced into space on the left of Hull’s box but his shot was deflected high into the air and easily claimed by McGregor in the 46th minute. Garner headed over moments later.

Sam Clucas whipped the ball into North End’s box in the 50th minute and caused a goalmouth scramble that was eventually settled by Pickford smothering the ball.

Akpom was booked and Huntington also picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Elmohamady in the 53rd minute.

John Welsh was booked for fouling Akpom in the 60th minute and Curtis Davies just headed over from the subsequent set-piece.

Gallagher whipped the ball into Garner at the far post and his looping header was just claimed by a back peddling McGregor.

Wright’s back-pass nearly gifted Akpom a goal but fortunately Pickford rushed out to whip the ball away from the striker’s feet.

And PNE were nearly level in the 74th minute as Browne latched on to Gallagher’s fierce cross and just nodded the ball over the bar from six-yards out.

But it was Hull who got the second goal of the game as an unmarked Davies nearly broke the back of the net with a fierce volley from close range after latching on to Meyler’s corner in the 82nd minute.

Vermijl’s cross was headed clear and McGregor claimed the subsequent corner as North End tried to grab a goal just before the final whistle.

Hull City: McGregor, Odubajo, Dawson, Davies, Robertson, Elmohamady, Meyler, Diamé (Maloney, 70), Lucas, Hernández (Aluko, 71), Akpom (Hayden, 82). Subs not used: Bruce, Huddlestone, Jakupovic, Hayden, Luer

PNE: Pickford, Clarke, Huntington, Wright, Woods (Vermijl, 82) Welsh (Browne, 70), Kilkenny, Johnson, Humphrey (Keane, 70), Gallagher, Garner. Subs not used: Kirkland, Brownhill, Reid, Hugill.

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)

Attendance: 16949