Phelan offers a different approach
Hull set out with a different formation to what they have utilised in recent weeks, employing three central defenders, thus allowing Ahmed Elmohamdy and Andrew Robertson freedom to attack down the flanks, whilst the dangerous Robert Snodgrass tucked inside to a number ten role. With the pace and creativity of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend occupying the wide areas for Crystal Palace, it was a bold but dangerous ploy introduced by home manager Mike Phelan.
In his programme notes prior to kick-off, the under pressure boss admitted "we have to find a pattern or system that requires retention of the ball further up the field".
Both left-back Robertson and boss Phelan called for the backing of the home fans, whilst Curtis Davies suggested "if we can get the crowd behind us it keeps us going". Yet the players were greeted by another sparse crowd as fans chose to stay away in reflection of the Tigers' poor recent run of form and the continued controversial ownership regime of the Allam family.
The visitors gain the early momentum
Hull and Palace alike would have seen this match as a good opportunity to pick up three points and both teams jockeyed for position in attacking areas during the opening stages. Christian Benteke offered a tame header, before Jason Puncheon hit an ambitious effort wide. At the other end Jake Livermore spooned over a promising Hull attack.
Yet within five minutes the visitors were well and truly threatening. Zaha ghosted beyond a flurry of Hull defenders to fire a shot across David Marshall that the home goalkeeper had to fingertip wide. Just moments late, Puncheon was offered the same freedom as he drove an effort straight at the Scottish international.
The visitors continued to silence the small home crowd as they pressed forward their dominance, with James McArthur prodding wide under pressure and Joel Ward smashing a speculative effort off target.
Hull hit back as their main man strikes again
Though when the hosts did break forward, space was appearing between the Palace lines. On 16 minutes Adama Diomande broke through a spacious defence to latch onto a Livermore through ball, only to be thwarted by Wayne Hennessey who came tearing off his line.
Hull were beginning to turn the tide with some sharp interchanging passes and such a move opened up space for the advancing Harry Magure, but the defender could only fire over from the edge of the box.
Robertson had been the key outlet on the left flank and when he found space and fed Snodgrass, the Scotsman went down in the penalty box in close proximity to Scott Dann but seemingly with no contact made. Cue Palace protests as the penalty was given, but it did not phase Hull top goalscorer Snodgrass as he fired his fifth league goal of the season into the top corner. It was to be the hosts' first goal in the opening third of a league game this season.
The Tigers continued to press as Maguire strided forward from defence oncemore, but again fired over with further space afforded to him. Zaha offered a hint of a comeback as Palace struggled to respond effectively, wildly spurning his shot from outside the box over the crossbar.
As the half fizzled out with a number of niggly fouls halting the momentum of the game, Hull found themselves leading at the break thanks in part to that controversial penalty decision.
Palace draw level as luck turns against Snodgrass
Hull camped themselves in Palace's half for the opening minutes after the break but with little end product provided. Yet the visitors made headway with another critical decision made by referee Mike Jones on their first attack of the second half. Wilf Zaha spun in the penalty area and was caught by the outstretched leg of Snodgrass. Benteke stepped up to cooly slot his eighth goal of the season and draw Palace level. The visiting fans will argue that justice had been served against Snodgrass and the hosts.
Hull looked to respond immediately to the disappointment as Livermore turned and found space outside the box but struck his weak effort straight at Hennessey. Moments later Zaha went down in the box again under pressure but this time the referee waved the protests away.
As the game tilted on a knife-edge, Diomande should have done better when he lashed wide on the turn in the Palace penalty area. The same man then powered forward before forcing Hennessey into a sharp stop low to his right.
Two beauties in two minutes
Hull continued to threaten but Palace always hold an attacking threat that has seen them score bundles of goals already this season. Zaha found space and fed Puncheon who was afforded too much room and forced Marshall into an important stop at his near post.
The Tigers failed to clear the resulting corners as the trickery of Zaha bought him a yard of space away from Sam Clucas. The Palace striker-cum-winger then fired a rasping shot from the edge of the box into the roof of the net, as the visiting fans burst into delirium.
Zaha's strike was magical but he was soon matched at the other end just minutes later. With his back to goal, Diomande showed his strength to hold off Damien Delaney, before a slight piece of footwork allowed him to slide the ball through the defender's legs and slot home an equaliser for the hosts.
Livermore goal is pegged back by Campbell return
Diomande almost added his second moments later, only for his goalbound shot to be blocked by Martin Kelly. Yet eventually the Tigers did get another reward for their endeavour as they regained the lead just eight minutes after losing it. This time Jake Livermore drifted into the penalty box, took on three Palace defenders and then placed Hull 3-2 ahead.
Sam Clucas then had a chance to put daylight between the teams as he glanced a header wide from the edge of the box and the KCOM crowd struggled to draw breath.
The visitors slowly began to venture forward again as Puncheon fired a shot over. Hull looked nervy if not uncomfortable before another lapse in concentration cost them the three points. Substitute and former Tiger Fraizer Campbell was afforded the luxury of the Hull penalty area has he guided in a header from Zaha's cross in the final minute.
Palace had saved a point as Mike Phelan was left wondering what could have been for his industrious Hull side.