Mallik Wilks’ stoppage-time strike earned Hull a vital 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough in the battle to beat the drop in the Sky Bet Championship.
Having only completed a permanent move to Hull earlier in the day on Thursday, Wilks rewarded that faith with a goal in the first minute of added time to end a run of 13 games without a win for his side.
Britt Assombalonga had put Boro ahead after just four minutes at the KCOM Stadium, but Hull quickly responded through a Herbie Kane free-kick to level things up.
And the game seemed to be petering out into a draw, until Wilks struck to fire Hull out of the relegation zone and into 19th, two points clear of the drop. It also saw them leapfrog Boro, who dropped to 21st – just a point clear of safety.
Hull end their winless run in dramatic circumstances
It was a frantic start to say the least. Within four minutes Boro were in front as Jordy De Wijs brought down Patrick Roberts in the box, and Assombalonga stepped up to slot the ball into the top corner and end a 12-match goal drought in the process.
Hull responded quickly, though. After eight minutes Kane – who had scored a free-kick at Birmingham on Saturday – made it two in two. At St Andrew’s he had cheekily gone under the wall, but on this occasion he lofted it over and into the top corner from 20 yards with a quite wonderful effort.
The evening would end in disappointment for Kane, however. On 28 minutes he was forced off with injury, and Hull boss Grant McCann would be forced into a further substitution in the first half as Callum Elder made way after taking a knock to the head in a collision with Paddy McNair.
It seemed like we were destined for a draw at the KCOM, until a De Wijs knock down from a high ball into the box found Wilks, who punted it first time into the top corner.
Man of the Match – Jonny Howson
Of all of Middlesbrough’s players it’s Howson who can consider himself most unfortunate to be on the losing side. In a game mostly lacking quality he drove them on over and over again. Some better finishing and he would have had an assist or two.
What the managers said…
Hull’s Grant McCann: “It’s a big win, there’s no getting away from that with six games to go. We’ve come back in a good place, before the lockdown we had so many injuries. We were unlucky against Charlton and Birmingham but have got the win today. It wasn’t pretty and I think the ball has a migraine! But when you’re playing a Neil Warnock team who want to get the ball forward, I thought we defended very well.
“It’s never easy to come back from 1-0 down, especially here as we haven’t had the best of runs at home, but the group showed character to come back. It was a great free-kick from Herbie and it was nip and tuck over who would switch off from a second ball, and fortunately for us we got the win.”
Middlesbrough’s Neil Warnock: “I would’ve been disappointed only getting a point, but that’s football. They got the break at the end and we should have put it to bed earlier. That’s why we’re down where we are.
“There are six games left and I think we can win every game. We won’t get too down, but [the players] are disappointed because we were the better team and we should have won the game.”
Both sides are back in Championship action on Sunday. Middlesbrough host QPR at 2pm, while Hull head to West Brom for a 3pm kick-off.