HULL CITY'S hearts were broken in the cruellest fashion after Callum Robinson headed a late winner to seal victory for Preston North End at the KCOM Stadium - extending the Tigers' winless streak to five games.
Tom Barkhuizen gave Preston a well-deserved lead after 37 minutes, but the half-time introduction of Kamil Grosicki transformed Hull and they equalised through Jarrod Bowen.
In this situation it’s possible to lose confidence because everyone is frustrated now and it’s very difficult, because each match is very close.Hull boss Leonid Slutsky
However, the high-flying visitors demonstrated once more they are no pushovers and Robinson headed home following a break down the right by fellow substitute Daryl Horgan.
Afterwards, Hull boss Leonid Slutsky could not hide his disappointment and apologised to the club’s fans.
“I say sorry to the supporters because I understand they must be disappointed because we don’t bring results, I don’t bring results,” said Slutsky.
“It’s very difficult speaking about a performance when you concede in the last minute and it’s not the first time.
“In this situation it’s possible to lose confidence because everyone is frustrated now and it’s very difficult, because each match is very close. In each match we have chances to win but we can’t. Despite his side's poor run of form, Tigers boss Leonid Slutsky stuck with the side which drew 1-1 at Reading, while Preston boss Alex Neil brought in Alan Browne for Josh Harrop from the side who were held to a goalless draw with Millwall.
The visitors dominated from the start and created the game's first opening after eight minutes as Jordan Hugill fired over from 20 yards.
Allan McGregor slipped taking the resulting goal kick, with the ball rolling to Sean Maguire. He played in Browne down the right, but the midfielder spurned the opportunity to shoot in favour of attempting a return pass which was scrambled clear.
It took 20 minutes for the hosts to register a shot on target, and when they did Fraizer Campbell's 25-yard effort failed to seriously test Chris Maxwell in the Preston goal.
Preston continued to probe, and Daniel Johnson's clever ball over the top after 33 minutes picked out Barkhuizen, whose volley was well stopped by McGregor before Michael Dawson hacked Browne's follow-up off the line.
Hull countered and Bowen's deflected effort from range forced a smart stop from Maxwell.
Four minutes later the away side deservedly took the lead. Dawson was booked for complaining to referee James Linington about the award of a free-kick, and Hull's sense of injustice was exacerbated as Paul Huntington's header was parried by McGregor, with Barkhuizen lashing home the rebound.
Poland international Grosicki, absent at the weekend with a knock, replaced Fikayo Tomori at the break as Slutsky abandoned his back three, and the move paid dividends five minutes after half-time.
Grosicki's free-kick was headed back across goal by Campbell, and Bowen slid the ball into an empty net as North End's defence switched off.
Barkhuizen's good work down the right after 61 minutes was wasted when he overcooked a pass to Maguire, who would have had a clear sight of goal.
Huntington's effort was blocked by McGregor after Hull failed to clear their lines from a corner, while Maguire failed to get enough power into his shot after Johnson picked him out at the end of a swift Preston counter attack.
Hull were growing into the game, however, and Huntington did well to block David Meyler's strike before Maxwell superbly tipped Grosiki's follow-up onto the bar.
The influential Grosicki then found Michael Hector five yards out with a 79th-minute cross, but the on-loan Chelsea defender inexplicably headed over.
Robinson then settled the contest two minutes from time as he headed into an empty net after Horgan beat Max Clark and delivered a perfect cross.
Hull City: McGregor, Tomori (Grosicki 46), Dawson, Hector, Aina, Meyler, Irvine,Kingsley (Clark 25),Bowen, Larsson, Campbell (Dicko 84). Subs Not Used: Mazuch,Toral,Mannion,Henriksen.
Preston North End: Maxwell, Fisher, Huntington, Davies, Earl, Johnson, Welsh (Robinson 67), Sean Maguire, Browne,
Barkhuizen (Horgan 78),Hugill (Harrop 67). Subs Not Used: Woods, Spurr, Mavididi, Hudson.
Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight).