Hull City 1 Preston 0: Redemption for Jaden Philogene as Tigers secure most important win of the season to date
But it was probably the most significant as the Tigers won on parched home soil for the first time in six matches since August 12.
An issue which had been threatening to blemish City’s healthy start was assuaged at an important juncture thanks to a key passage of play - not just in the context of the game – but the hosts’ season.
It occurred midway through the second half.
City’s defence opened up and Liam Millar was set to pull the trigger and fire Preston ahead, only for midfielder Adama Traore to make a fantastic last-ditch challenge.
Straightaway, Hull rallied and the twinkle-toes of JHaden Philogene did the rest.
He showed his undoubted quality to evade a couple of challenges and his low drive was deadly, for his third goal in four matches as he showed what money can buy.
It was ruthless at both ends of the pitch from City and just what Liam Rosenior had been looking for.
He was less amused on the stroke of half-time when Philogene prevaricated in front of goal and a big chance went. Events in the 68th minute might just have appeased him.
Despite late Preston pressure, City held out for a big three points - as they secured back-to-back wins and confirmed their upwardly-mobile status.
An even half of football in front of a bumper 24,000-plus crowd - with many taking advantage of a ‘quid for a kid’ cut-price ticket offer - ensued, with a proficient Preston side looking a tough nut to crack with everyone comfortable in their assigned roles with and without the ball.
North End’s mask slipped just once - seconds before the break - and it should have been enough to give City the lead in a finely-poised Roses encounter.
Philogene - who had given the visitors pockets of grief and saw one well-struck low shot fly into the side-netting - was away following a defence-splitting pass from Jean-Michael Seri.
Despite the missive from Rosenior about his side being less tardy in their finishing after last weekend’s home game with Southampton, Philogene clearly hadn’t been listening after criminally delaying when offered a clear sight of goal with Preston managing to regroup and clear - and heave a major sigh of relief in the process.
In a tight affair, it was careless.
City, who opted to partner Seri in the middle of midfield with Adama Traore - it failed miserably in the EFL Cup game with Doncaster Rovers in August - went close through a Scott Twine free-kick, which flew inches wide.
Liam Delap looked eager to prove against the side where he struggled on loan last term. He had a few threatening moments, while Preston’s best opportunity arrived when Brad Potts and Duane Holmes produced a neat exchange to find substitute Milutin Osmajic, whose flicked first-time effort flew narrowly wide following a sweeping move.
North End, who lost two players to injury in the first half including ex-Tigers forward Will Keane, had a flyer in Millar, although referee Smith was rightly not interested when he went down in the box under pressure from Alfie Jones.
Earlier, a half-shout for a spot-kick involving Philogene was rightly rebuffed, while another Preston appeal fell on deaf ears after Alan Browne went down under close attention from Jacob Greaves.
The North End captain was apoplectic again early in the second half when he fell to the deck following a Jones challenge. Again, Smith remained unmoved in what looked to be a close call.
Fifty-three minutes were on the clock when a keeper was forced into meaningful work.
It saw Preston custodian Freddie Woodman beat out a drive from Philogene after the winger had fashioned a decent opportunity on the left. It was the first effort on target by either side.
On the other flank, Lokilo went solo and saw his low drive fly wide.
A fine saving challenge from Traore thwarted Millar in a big moment midway through the half and that was magnified when Philogene had his redemption at the other end.
A lovely exchange between Philogene and Greaves down the left ended in the latter going close, with his low shot just a whisker away from making it 2-0.
Ryan Allsop was finally called into action in the last ten minutes, making his key save with his legs to keep out Ched Evans’s low angled shot after the veteran striker wriggled clear.
Despite a late charge by North End, City held out.
Hull City: Allsop; Coyle, Jones, McLoughlin, Greaves; Traore (Christie 80), Seri; Lokilo (Docherty 72), Twine, Philogene; Delap. Unused substitutes: Ingram, Tufan, Sinik, Vaughan, Smith, Connolly.
Preston North End: Woodman; Potts, Storey, Lindsay, Cunningham (Best 33); Whiteman, Ledson (Woodburn 76); Holmes (Evans 60), Browne, Millar (Brady 76); Keane (Osmajic 33). Unused substitutes: Cornell, Bauer, Frokjaer-Jensen, Stewart.
Referee: L Smith (Wigan).