Marco Silva marked his first appearance in English football with victory in the FA Cup over struggling Swansea City, as Abel Hernandez and Josh Tymon came off the substitutes bench to earn Hull a morale boosting win.
Fans choose to stay away
All eyes were on the dugouts as both Silva and Paul Clement took the reigns at Hull and Swansea respectively. An injury crisis and African Cup of Nations duties forced Silva to declare almost his best available eleven, whilst Clement used the opportunity of the Cup stage to make a few adjustments to the side he watched beat Crystal Palace from the stands during the week.
Yet there was a surreal greeting for both new managers, as Hull fans opted to stay away in protest of the Allam family ownership. With more empty seats than attendees, both sides looked towards the 'magic of the cup' to help boost their poor seasons thus far. Though an attendance of 6,608 left very little atmosphere for the players to feed off.
Tight and tense opening 45 minutes
It was to be the hosts who had the first opportunities of the game, as Sam Clucas headed wide from a David Meyler cross at right-back, before stand-in centre-back Jake Livermore diverted Robert Snodgrass' dangerously whipped free-kick just off target. However Swansea almost took the lead from a set-piece just moments later, as Gylfi Sigurdsson's free-kick was flicked on by Borja Baston, finding Ki Sung-Yueng whose improvised effort was clawed away by Eldin Jakupovic. Ki then hit another effort from long range just wide as Swansea looked to keep their opponents pinned in their own half with heavy pressure on the ball.
As the game began to settle down midway through the half, it was the visitors who were enjoying the most possession pivoting around Jack Cork. Yet the tempo from both sides was slow and laboured, reflecting the lack of confidence coinciding with their lowly league positions. The Swans did muster an opportunity on 27 minutes, as Sigurdsson jumped on a lapse in concentration before pulling a pass back to Borja, though the Spaniard's effort was weak and comfortably handled by Jakupovic.
Hull responded soon after as recent permanent signing Markus Henriksen fired over from Snodgrass' pass. Their best chance of the game thus far then dropped to Sam Clucas, as Kyle Naughton left him unmarked, though the central midfielder's volley was kept out by Havard Nordveit. Yet neither side was really getting a true foothold in the game and the half filtered out with the scores level.
Super-subs steal success for Silva
Whilst Hull's greatest threat in the first half had been the unlikely source of Clucas, Swansea had gone closest to scoring through Ki and both players had chances to score early in the second period. Clucas almost latched onto a neat passing combination between Ryan Mason and Snodgrass, before Ki was thwarted by Jakupovic after Michael Dawson gave the ball away. Andrew Robertson then fired a half-volley over for the hosts after being picked out by Adama Diomande, followed by the visitors creating another chance of their own when Nathan Dyer was kept out by Jakupovic after a Stephen Kingsley cut-back. Both teams had clearly extended their tempo since the break.
As the stopwatch ticked over to the hour mark, Hull's top goalscorer Snodgrass lashed wide from a Henriksen pass, though you would have expected the Scotsman to at least hit the target with the form he is in. That opportunity was followed by a raft of substitutions as both sides looked to avoid a dreaded replay and force a winner, though there will be concerns on the Hull bench about the shoulder injury to Dawson, as Tom Huddlestone was forced to fill in alongside Livermore in the centre of the back four.
The changes only offered a lull in proceedings for fifteen minutes before the game finally kicked into life with a quarter of an hour to play. Ki turned and volleyed against the post from a Fernando Llorente knock down, before Diomande fired wide after being played through by Mason. Then came the moment all Hull fans had been waiting for as two returning players combined to open the scoring. Lapse defending from Swansea allowed Shaun Maloney space down the right, before his pass across found Abel Hernandez who guided the ball home. The two substitutes had joined forces just when the hosts needed it.
Hull have been guilty of sitting too deep and allowing opponents back in when leading during recent weeks, so the next 12 minutes were set up to be a real test of their character. Meyler was on hand to block a Naughton shot, before Jakupovic kept out a Llorente header from Sigurdsson's cross. The hosts continued to weather the storm and with time running out Clucas found Hull's third substitute, teenage sensation Josh Tymon, who slotted the Tigers firmly into the FA Cup Fourth Round.