The irrepressible Jarrod Bowen was at it again for Hull City as the Tigers ran riot against Preston North End at the KCOM Stadium.
His quick-fire brace salvaged a point for Grant McCann’s men at Middlesbrough on Sunday and the livewire attacker repeated the trick last night, bagging one in each half of a rather one-sided affair.
In truth, he could easily have had four. Maybe even five. City, as a collective, could have got somewhere near double figures had they been more clinical inside the penalty area.
Such was their dominance, that the events that unfolded by the Humber made a mockery of the Championship standings; the home team were 15th at kick-off, while North End came into the fixture riding high in fourth.
And although the visitors did show some promise early on, they got taken apart in the second period, with that man Bowen their tormentor in chief.
The down side for McCann is that performances like this only go to underline the fact that the 22-year-old is more than ready to make the step up to Premier League football.
Such was their dominance, that the events that unfolded by the Humber made a mockery of the Championship standings.Rhys Howell
That he wasn’t lured away in the summer was surprising enough, but admiring glances have long been cast in his direction and the big boys will doubtless be ready to pounce when the transfer window re-opens.
Bowen’s latest double takes his tally for the season to 14 and the way he’s going he could conceivably have 20 before the end of the festive period.
It goes without saying that this kind of a contribution will be near-impossible for McCann to replace, so January will be interesting.
But, for now, it is a just a case of seeing how far up the table Bowen can lead the Tigers.
As good as he was on the night, his partner in crime Kamil Grosicki also shone, while Everton-loanee Josh Bowler was another to impress.
In fairness, there were strong performances across the park, including that of goalkeeper George Long, who was far from an idle spectator in the freezing cold.
With just five minutes on the clock the City custodian was left clawing at thin air as Sean Maguire cut in off the left and beat him with a deflected effort that thudded against his far post.
At the other end, Grosicki twice got in behind without managing to find an end product before the Pole delivered a dangerous cross from the left that was diverted back across goal by a Preston defender where Bowen was lurking to deftly finish off from close range.
Grosicki fired wide before the Polish player raided at pace from inside his own half and drew a decent stop out of Declan Rudd. In the moments that followed, Bowler, Bowen and Josh Magennis all tested the visiting goalkeeper, the latter with an acrobatic effort from point-blank range.
The Lilywhites made it into the break with the damage at just 1-0, but didn’t survive much longer after the resumption. Barely 60 seconds into the second period, Bowen was upended inside the box and Magennis converted the spot-kick.
Moments later some delicate one-touch interplay between Bowler, Magennis and Bowen led to number three, the latter crossing from close to the right byline and leaving Grosicki with the simplest of finishes.
Bowler then lashed one narrowly too high, Jackson Irvine skied a sitter from three yards out and Grosicki warmed the palms of Rudd before Bowen wrapped things up on 77 minutes, squeezing a strike home from a narrow angle.
Further chances came and went, but Hull had already done enough to climb to ninth, their highest position to date this term.
Hull: Long, Lichaj, Burke, De Wijs, Elder, Batty, Irvine, Bowler (Honeyman 71), Bowen, Grosicki (Lewis-Potter 79), Magennis (Eaves 79). Unused substitutes: Tafazolli, Stewart, Ingram, Pennington.
Preston North End: Rudd, Ledson (Harrop 58), Bauer, Storey, Rafferty, Pearson, Gallagher, Bodin (Nugent 67), Johnson, Maguire (Potts 81), Barkhuizen. Unused substitutes: Bayliss, Stockley, Huntington, Hudson.
Referee: Jonathan Moss (Durham).