Dave Seddon's verdict: Hull City 4 Preston North End 0 - It was grim for PNE all the way to Hull and back
To Hull and back was to hell and back for Preston North End as they suffered their heaviest defeat for more than three years.
Everything about this clash was grim from a PNE point of view, starting with the trip across a pitch-black M62 in pouring rain – it wasn’t much better going home.
In between was something of a nightmare on the pitch for North End, their hosts scoring four goals without reply and in truth they could have had more had Declan Rudd not made a string of saves.
Only once had North End conceded four under Alex Neil’s stewardship, that at West Bromwich Albion on Gentry Day in April.
They at least found the net with a consolation goal that afternoon, something which eluded them in this one.
The last time they suffered a heavier defeat was the 5-0 loss at Brentford in September 2016 under Simon Grayson’s watch.
In Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, Hull possess two of the division’s most impressive attacking players when they are on their game.
Both hit top note on Wednesday, hence it not being the ideal night for PNE’s injuries in defence to stack up.
They were without four out-and-out defenders, plus Alan Browne who has filled in at right-back to good effect at times this season.
It meant Ryan Ledson being pressed into service at right-back and later on the other side, a gamble by Neil which bombed.
Ledson looked lost operating at the back rather in his usual midfield role.
On his day, Grosicki will give the best of full-backs a good game, so this was torment for Ledson.
Neil tried to stem the flow at half-time by switching Joe Rafferty to the right. The thinking was that a natural full-back could help stifle the Polish winger.
Instead, Hull switch their focus to the other side and made sure Josh Bowler got plenty of the ball on their right and PNE’s left.
Daniel Johnson played the last half-hour at left-back once Ledson had been withdrawn to save him from more pain.
It wasn’t just down the sides where North End were exposed though, with Hull potent right the way across the front line.
Bowen played as a No.10 rather than out wide and was to score the Tigers’ first and fourth goal from there.
Hull boss Grant McCann said getting Bowen operating centrally stemmed from his scouting mission when PNE were beaten at Derby five days earlier.
McCann said: “Having watched Preston at Derby we felt if we could get Jarrod in and around Pearson and Gallagher, he might cause them some problems – even though those two are excellent footballers.
“It was a bit of a gamble because Jarrod isn’t great defensively but it paid off.”
McCann thought along the lines that if Bowen played off the striker, it would occupy PNE’s sitting midfield pair with defensive duties rather than being the starting point for Preston attacks. It worked a treat.
While North End were well beaten, it must be noted that they had good chances in key parts of the game.
Sean Maguire hit the post in the fifth minute, while a cross from the Irishman almost saw Callum Elder put through his own goal. Both those came at 0-0.
With the second half just a minute or so old and the scoreline at 1-0, Billy Bodin kicked fresh air instead of the ball in the box from Pearson’s low centre.
Hull countered from that let-off and moments later had won the penalty for the second goal. Josh Harrop hitting the post came at 3-0 down so wouldn't have been any more than window dressing had it gone in.
PNE fell behind in the 30th minute, Grosicki’s cross falling into the six-yard box where it hit Rafferty and bounced to Bowen who scored next to the post.
Ledson’s 47th minute challenge on Bowler saw referee Jon Moss point to the spot, Josh Magennis doing the business from 12 yards.
Bowen waltzed down the side of the PNE defence to set up an easy third for Grosicki three minutes later.
Hull got the fourth in the 77th minute, Bowen squeezing a shot between Rudd and his near post.