It was a case of job done by Grant McCann's men - albeit eventually - as stubborn Burton Albion kept Hull City at bay for 60 minutes at the KCOM Stadium before Mallik Wilks and Hakeeb Adelakun scored the goals that send the Tigers to second place in Sky Bet League One.
Story of the match
The match started at a pretty fast pace, with both sides keen to make an impression from the first whistle. The first real moment of quality came when Greg Docherty switched the play 40 yards to Josh Emmanuel on the right hand side, with the right back's cross blocked and away for a goal kick. Mallik Wilks's pace in behind caused problems on six minutes, with Sam Hughes going into the book for bundling the striker over for a free kick that was eventually poked goalwards, but went out for a Burton goal kick.
Wilks had played through the middle in a small number of games this season, and he was making a nuisance of himself just a minute later. His shot from the edge of the area had Ben Garratt in the Burton goal beaten, but his shot went just inches past the post and out to safety. Ryan Edwards had a great chance on 11 minutes, but his effort went wide of Matt Ingram's goal.
Just when Burton were looking to be getting into the game, a moment of madness from Hughes - already on a booking - saw him pull down Wilks who would have been through on goal. The referee had no hesitation in showing him a second yellow to leave Burton really up against it with only twenty minutes of the game gone. John-Joe O'Toole replaced Indiana Vassilev to shore up the backline for Burton.
Wilks went close on 21 minutes with a shot of the edge of the area bringing a good save out of Garratt. Thomas Mayer's ball in soon after just went over the head of Jacob Greaves who had the goal gaping in front of him if he could have got a touch. The expected Hull onslaught never came, however - and a head injury to Reece Burke caused a stoppage for the visitors to re-group. Quite how O'Toole - on as a substitute - didn't get at least a booking for his elbow on Burke will only ever be known to the referee.
City nearly went ahead on 39 minutes, with good play from Callum Elder seeing Mayer put James Scott in, but his shot went over the bar. It certainly was the bet chance of the half and despite the fact they only had ten men, Burton were holding the Tigers at arm's length. Their physicality was certainly excessive against the home side, who grew more frustrated as half time approached. George Honeyman's header was well saved by Garratt as injury time was announced, but the sides went in level at the break.
Tom Eaves and Hakeeb Adelakun replaced James Scott and Thomas Mayer respectively, as Grant McCann looked to make the changes to spark his side into life. Wilks was moved out to the right and won a free kick in the first minute of the second half, looking far more at home on the wing.
Good play from Richie Smallwood and Elder saw half a chance in the area for Hull, but Burton cleared their lines. Michael Bostwick came on for Stephen Quinn as Burton looked to add some fresh legs into their midfield. Adelakun went into the book for alleged simulation just before the hour mark, but soon after Burton's resistance was broken. Mallik Wilks smashed home from close range to give the home side a deserved lead after yet another free kick was given away by Albion, who were doing everything they could to disrupt Hull's forays forward into their half.
Wilks almost turned provider minutes later, with his square ball finding Adelakun. The substitute, however, couldn't convert as his sliding effort went past the far post. Martin Samuelsen came on for Docherty as McCann made his final change. Tom Eaves was clearly hauled down in the area as play continued but incredibly, the referee waved play on.
Excellent play from Samuelsen, Eaves and Adelakun saw the latter shoot goalwards with 20 minutes to go, but Garratt saved well. Eaves really should have scored with ten minutes left on the clock as he was one-on-one with Garratt, but the goalkeeper made himself big and blocked the opportunity. Samuelsen blazed over as Hull had all the chances, but the slender lead always left them vulnerable on the counter.
It was 2-0 with just minutes left on the clock. Adelakun took aim from 25 yards out and fired a great shot into the bottom corner to make sure of the points for Hull City. The second half substitute certainly looked lively after coming on, and he grabbed his second of the season as the Tigers took all three points to go second in the league, one point behind Peterborough United.
Takeaways from the match
Determined Hull eventually break through
The home side played for almost three quarters of the game with a man more than the Brewers, but it did look at times that the Tigers may fail to score. Albion defended deep and played cynically, trying to break up City's play as best they could. Wilks broke the deadlock after an hour and the relief on McCann's face was palpable, and when Adelakun sealed the points with just minutes left on the clock, it was the case of a job well done by the Northern Irishman.
Madness from Hughes puts his side under the cosh
It was certainly a game to forget for Sam Hughes. Wilks had the beating of him early on in the game, and the defender took out the attacker to earn himself a deserved yellow before the ten minute mark had even approached. What possessed him to pull Wilks back with 18 minutes gone in the middle of the pitch he only knows, but he certainly did his team absolutely no favors.
Mallik Wilks was a constant thorn in the side of the Albion defense, but was much better out wide. He was moved from a central position to the right at half time and his trickery and delivery was much better than that of Mayer before him. It was Wilks who scored the first goal too, smashing in from close range for his seventh goal of the season.
Ben Garratt was excellent in the Burton goal and he certainly kept the score down. Good saves from Eaves and Adelakun in particular gave his side hope that they could perhaps steal a point, but Adelakun's shot three minutes from time took any gloss off the goalkeeper's performance who will have felt he could have done slightly better.
Hull City: Ingram; Emmanuel, Burke, Greaves, Elder; Smallwood, Docherty, Honeyman; Scott, Wilks, Mayer.
Substitutions: Long, A Jones, C Jones, Adelakun, Samuelsen, Slater, Eaves.
Burton Albion: Garratt; Hughes, Eardley, Brayford, Gallacher; Lawless, Edwards, Quinn; Gilligan, Ennis, Vassilev.
Substitutions: Hawkins, Hart, Hewlett, Hutchinson, O'Toole, Bostwick.