Hull City’s manager has a superb record in the division, enjoying three promotions with Scunthorpe and Southampton.
Those successes were achieved when the 53-year-old’s stock was on the rise before a brief and largely unsuccessful stint at Sheffield United blotted his copybook during his last foray in the third tier.
After arriving on Humberside in the bleakest of mid-winters, Adkins has steered the Tigers to solid if not spectacular form.
A few weeks ago this visit to perennial underdogs Burton Albion represented a relegation six-pointer. Hull’s run has hardly been barnstorming, but four wins from nine games heading to Staffordshire had created a buffer between themselves and those most in peril.
Last night brought a victory that almost certainly confirms the Tigers’ place in next season’s Championship while condemning the Brewers to League One after a two-year absence.
Hull’s emphatic victory over a battling but ultimately limited Burton team was achieved with a level of panache and confidence rarely seen on Humberside this term.
They made the perfect start when Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson continued his rich vein of form inside just five minutes.
The Wales international notched his fifth strike since arriving in January with a fine individual finish. He picked up the ball on the right edge of the box and caressed a shot beyond Stephen Bywater into the bottom-left corner.
Burton are a club whose record signing cost a quarter of a million pounds and whose ground holds barely a third of the capacity of the KCOM Stadium and Nigel Clough’s side lack the quality required at this level.
That was documented by a distinct lack of penetration in the final third, with Liam Boyce failing to connect when Lloyd Dyer’s centre had created the hosts’ only chance of the first half.
The visitors enjoyed a huge slice of fortune when the hosts were denied what looked like a clear penalty as Boyce went down in the box after a clumsy-looking challenge from Hull’s goalkeeper Allan McGregor. Referee Peter Bankes dismissed Burton’s appeals and the decision was followed by a second Hull strike around five minutes later.
Michael Dawson’s long cross-field punt was picked up by Kamil Grosicki who was uncharacteristically given acres of room in the box before cleverly directing his shot past Bywater.
The Tigers now sensed blood and Dawson hit a dipping volley from a corner. Minutes later Wilson burst into the box and picked out Grosicki who was only denied a second thanks to a terrific last-ditch block by a Brewers defender.
After a hugely forgettable first- half showing, Clough opted to make his final two changes at the interval.
His side appeared much more alert although again they were struggling to make their mark in the final third and it was Hull who went closest to garnering the game’s third goal.
Jackson Irvine almost capped a perfect return to his former employers just before the hour mark, but his side-footed effort was dealt with by Bywater.
By now Hull were very much back in the ascendancy and Grosicki was again denied a second.
This time he raced through the middle and crashed his shot against a post.
A third and ultimately decisive goal was not long in coming, however.
The bright Wilson was the victim of a blatant foul by Tom Flanagan in the box and, unlike the earlier spot-kick appeal, this time referee Bankes pointed straight to the spot.
Republic of Ireland international David Meyler confidently tucked away the penalty to extinguish any faint Burton hopes that still lingered.
A fourth goal arrived with five minutes left to play and it was the game’s best player Grosicki who scored it.
After being denied a brace on a number of occasions, Grosicki outpaced the home backline, rounded Bywater and tapped into the net.
And in the final embers of the contest substitute Will Keane got in on the act when he tapped in Fikayo Tomori’s centre to score his first goal for the club – and for the first time in any game since December 2015.
Burton Albion: Bywater, Akins, Naylor (Turner 46), Buxton, Brayford (Flanagan 46), Dyer (Samuelsen 40), Davenport, Akpan, Sordell, Bent, Boyce. Unused substitutes: Campbell, Murphy, Allen, Sbarra.
Hull City: McGregor, Tomori, Dawson, MacDonald, Kingsley (Aina 82), Henriksen (Stewart 67), Meyler, Irvine, Grosicki, Wilson, Campbell (Keane 75). Unused substitutes: Marshall, Mazuch, Toral, Dicko
Referee: P Bankes (Merseyside).