Hull City manager Nigel Adkins says Chris Martin is the best finisher at the club yet his central striker has yet to score in seven appearances.
Therein lies one of the big problems facing Adkins as he tries to unlock a winning combination – the inability to turn chances into goals.
Derby County loanee Martin, however, produced a strong performance in the basement battle with Preston, heading against the bar and winning the 84th-minute penalty which Jarrod Bowen despatched with aplomb.
It looked like being enough to give Hull their third win of the season but when Daniel Batty lost out in a crunching midfield challenge, Preston moved the ball wide and substitute Louis Moult spun off Eric Lichaj to drill home the stoppage-time equaliser from the ensuing cross.
It was tough to take for Hull, who had driven back the visitors in the second half when Poland international Kamil Grosicki was switched out wide from the No 10 role which had not suited the Poland winger’s talents.
Hull’s Australian international midfield man Jackson Irvine reflected: “Football is a funny old game. When luck’s not with you, it doesn’t come. Sometimes it comes in waves but, unfortunately, things didn’t fall for us.
We’re positive, we’re never going to throw in the towel and chuck it. We’ll continue to do the right things and believe it will turn for us.Jackson Irvine
“That will change. We just have to stay on the right path and do the right things.
“We will win more games than not playing like that. It’s as simple as that. We will win games of football if we create chances like that. It’s a fact, though that’s only a statement. We have to go out and produce those levels of performance again. That’s how the wins will come.”
Hull had been sent to the bottom before the international break by virtue of Preston’s 4-0 win over Wigan but at least the draw moved them off it at Ipswich’s expense.
Irvine admitted: “It was a wake-up call in a sense. We don’t want to be bottom of the league and we don’t want to be fourth bottom of the league, where we were the week before.
“We want to be up in mid-table, pushing from there. But we’re not. While we’re not there, we’ll be pushing to get there. Being bottom of the league is horrendous and it’s not a good feeling but we’re always looking up because we don’t want to be down there, full stop.”
The 25-year-old is adamant that spirit in the camp remains high and he is confident that the goals will flow for Scotland international Martin.
“If confidence was an issue you’d stop creating the chances if that was the case. We’ve got to believe that the goals will come. I’ve spoken enough about the mentality of this group.
“We’re positive, we’re never going to throw in the towel and chuck it. We’ll continue to do the right things and believe it will turn for us.
“We’d love Chris to get his first goal for the club. He’s done really well and worked ever so hard since he’s come in. That’s given us a different dimension in the front third. He’s a big character and he’s experienced enough not to let not scoring affect him. He knows it’ll come if he keeps getting in the right areas. He’s an experienced pro’ and he’ll not let these moments phase him.”
Martin was not the only Hull player out of luck, centre-back Reece Burke smashing a long-range drive against Chris Maxwell’s right-hand post and, after the striker’s header against the bar, wing-back Lichaj firing over from eight yards.
After the break, Bowen saw his close-range attempt kept out by Maxwell’s legs before the goalkeeper made a flying save from Grosicki and then had a touch of fortune when he diverted Bowen’s goal-bound prod onto the head of Jordan Storey and the ball cannoned back off the post.
The central defender was the culprit as he hauled down Martin as Burke crossed from the right but Moult came to the rescue to leave Hull deflated ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Bristol City.
The Tigers may have captain Markus Henriksen back in the reckoning after the attacking midfield man lost his ever-present record due to a head injury sustained on international duty with Norway.
Adkins remained positive, saying: “It was a good performance. We were on the front foot and looked solid defensively. We created a lot of chances, hitting the woodwork three times. Our frustration was there for all to see after getting in a winning position. Things are going against us.”
Hull City: Marshall, Burke, Elphick, De Wijs; Lichaj, Irvine, Batty (Stewart 90), Kane; Grosicki (Dicko 90); Bowen, Martin (Campbell 87). Unused substitutes: Long, Keane, McKenzie, Sheaf.
Preston North End: Maxwell, Fisher, storey, Davies, Hughes; Ledson (Robinson 59), Johnson; Maguire (Gallagher 64), Browne, Barker; Nmecha (Moult 71). Unused substitutes: Rudd, Earl, Burke, Huntington.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey).