Hull City display the stamina to suggest they can stick around the top six - final word on Tigers' win over Preston North End
As developments go ahead of his first anniversary in charge at Hull City later this week, Liam Rosenior is entitled to afford himself a satisfied and relieving smile, however briefly. This was a timely present.
As the autumn leaves fell down and the fireworks started to fill the night air, attention out east among the amber and black faithful had been focusing on the home front for the second successive year.
Even if those in the press corps had been careful not to bang on about it too much to City’s head coach.
Hull’s form at the MKM Stadium was blotting the landscape again, as it did 12 months ago.
Rosenior quickly grew irritated at the merest mention of it early in his tenure and journalists elected to proceed with caution.
Mercifully in the present, Saturday did something about it as Hull won at home for the first time in six matches since August 12. The glorious 12th against Sheffield Wednesday.
This latest victory over Preston lacked the sparkle and sunshine of that feted day. In the context of City’s season, in front of another big East Yorkshire crowd, it was probably more important.
At the end of a three-game Championship week, which can often sort out the men from the boys at this time of year, Hull found a way to record a win of substance against a well-organised, tactically adept opponent who were hard to put away.
It was the sort of professional and proficient three points that all managers love and makes them sleep that little bit easier on a night.
Inspection ahead of the game showed that in the second half 'table', Preston's statistics were the third best in the Championship, with Hull lagging behind in comparison. This added further lustre to the triumph.
Pleasingly, the organisation and resilience which were a defining feature of Rosenior’s opening months at the Tigers’ helm made a re-appearance.
There was also one spectacular flourish midway through the second half - and it was enough.
City’s marquee summer signing in Jaden Philogene came to the party and brought a lavish gift to the table by way of his fine solo strike.
In a fixture which has seen just two goals registered in the last four meetings, it was always likely to be a big moment.
What will have made Rosenior just as happy was what happened moments before.
At the other end, the goal had opened up for North End with City’s backline split open for the first time. Alan Browne found Liam Millar and it was a case of fearing the worst - until Adama Traore made a brilliant last-ditch challenge out of nowhere. It was duly noted afterwards by the Tigers chief.
Its importance was magnified by what happened next when Philogene twisted the blood of Preston defender Jordan Storey - not for the first time - before drilling home an inch-perfect low drive.
It encapsulated just why City were so keen to bring him to the club. A ‘top, top player’ was Acun Ilicali’s reference to Philogene when he was courting him late in the window and it is increasingly hard to argue with that assessment.
On the day, there was also a spot of redemption for the gifted winger.
Moments before the interval in a first half of few chances, Philogene dillied and dallied after being sent clear by Jean-Michael Seri and Preston’s covering defenders managed to get in a last-ditch block which they really should not have done.
That tardiness in front of goal had previously let City - and not just Philogene - down in the previous home game with Southampton seven days earlier.
On Monday, Rosenior had shown all his players a video of Ollie Watkins’s clinical goal for Aston Villa last weekend as a case example in what to do in front of goal when presented with the chance.
That footage had seemingly passed by Philogene, a former team-mate of Watkins’s at Villa Park. He would later take matters into his own hands.
Following a meandering run down the left, the Hammersmith flyer went close when he forced Preston keeper Freddie Woodman to make the game’s first save on 53 minutes.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and Philogene did just that to devastating effect 15 minutes later.
It proved the game-breaking moment, although keeper Ryan Allsop was called into key work in the final ten minutes to splendidly keep out a goalbound effort from Ched Evans with his legs. In a game of limited chances, it carried weight.
Hull City: Allsop; Coyle, Jones, McLoughlin, Greaves; Traore (Christie 80), Seri; Lokilo (Docherty 72), Twine, Philogene (Vinagre 89); 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: M Woods (Airdrie).