Pressure is mounting on Alex Neil after he saw his side well beaten by high flying Watford at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets stuck four past Preston in a strong attacking display, showing the quality that has seen them make a strong start on their return to the Championship.
Preston, coming off the back of a woeful defeat at the hands on Blackburn on Tuesday, made five changes with key players Ben Pearson and Ben Davies returning from injury.
Watford, who drew in midweek against Bristol City, only made one change with veteran captain Troy Deeney returning in place of Brazilian Joao Pedro.
The first chance of note fell the way of the Lilywhites, when Daniel Johnson headed the ball forward to Sean Maguire forcing a save out of Ben Forster in the Watford goal.
This was followed by good work down the left from Tom Barkhuizen, finding Maguire whose cutback to Brad Potts was fired over.
Preston were left ruing these chances however, when following a shot from Kiko Femenia the ball was played out to Ismaila Sarr. His cross found Domingos Quina who converted to give Watford the lead.
Qunia almost returned the favour soon after, but was unable to pick out Sarr with a cross.
Preston could’ve drawn level when a sloppy back pass from Andre Gray found North End defender Patrick Bauer, who forced another save from Foster.
Watford were forced into a change ten minutes before the break, when Andre Gray was forced off with an Injury. Pedro was brought on in his place, and almost made an instant impact when he unexpectedly connected onto a cross from Jeremy Ngakia, which was comfortably saved.
The London side also had the ball in the net soon after but Nathaniel Chalobah was deemed offside. Watford had the better of the first half but Preston were still in the game.
Preston’s issues increased shortly after the break however, when Jordan Storey was deemed to foul Sarr in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. The decision was questionable, but Deeney stepped up and in his usual fashion smashed home from 12 yards.
The Whites found their way back into the game five minutes later, when Barkhuizen cut inside off the left, his shot deflected of youngster James Garner and into back of the net.
Preston couldn’t capitalise on the momentum however, when Deeney flicked the ball over to Chalobah who placed a sweet volley into the bottom corner. The goal showcasing the quality Watford have going forward.
Pressure continued to mount, with Deeney forcing a sharp save from Declan Rudd after Preston failed to clear, and from the resulting corner Sarr’s shot produced an equally excellent save.
The forth was inevitable and came from an Ngakia corner. The ball was flicked on to an unmarked Chalobah who tapped home. Neil was noticeably furious from the touchline, but there was nothing his players could do.
Making a rare appearance, Tom Bayliss mustered the only real chance of the half for Preston, when his header from Brad Potts’ cross was saved.
The Hornets ended the game with a string of chances but couldn’t add to their haul, and the ref blew to put Preston out of their misery.
The win takes Watford to third in the table and only two points off the top, with the three relegated sides continuing to show their class.
For Preston however, it makes grim reading. Down to 18th and a trip to 2nd placed Bournemouth on Tuesday, time could be running out for Alex Neil.