Acun Ilicali’s reign as new Hull owner began with a determined 2-0 victory against third-placed Blackburn.
The Turkish businessman completed his £20m takeover of the Sky Bet Championship side on Wednesday afternoon and was unveiled in front of an enthusiastic crowd before kick-off.
Ilicali will have been most impressed by Hull’s brave victory over in-form opponents – especially once George Honeyman opened the scoring after eight minutes.
Tom Eaves then headed home a second with 67 minutes gone against a Blackburn side that looked a fallow imitation of the team that has powered into the frame for promotion.
Rovers, previously unbeaten in the league since November 3, were strangely passive for most of the match.
They were initially punished for such a lethargic approach to the game when centre-back Sean McLoughlin sent a speculative long ball into their penalty area.
Eaves did well to keep the football in play, but Ryan Longman did even better to send into the box a smart, low cross.
Honeyman’s first touch deceived Scott Wharton – perhaps a little too easily – with the former Sunderland midfielder following up with a deft strike that was rightly adjudged to have crossed the goalline.
Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray must have been disappointed by his side’s rather tepid response to that early setback.
That said, they still had a strong shout for a penalty after 25 minutes when Di’Shon Bernard appeared to bundle over Ben Brereton Diaz inside the box.
Referee Thomas Bramall instead waved play-on.
Bernard saved Hull with an excellent goal-line clearance after 37 minutes.
Reda Khadra initially outpaced the Manchester United loan signing and had time and space to score once goalkeeper Nathan Baxter misjudged the flight of a long ball.
Khadra’s strike was on target, but Bernard showed impressive athleticism to deflect the ball away for a corner, which came to nothing.
Blackburn marginally improved in an open second half, but Baxter was rarely tested and Hull remained a threat on the break.
Indeed, the hosts should have made it 2-0 on the hour when Longman flashed Randell Williams’ corner wide – when it seemed easier to score.
Longman soon made amends when he sent a high cross towards the back post which was calmly headed home by Eaves.
The game should then have been out of sight for Hull after Wharton made an awful hash of a speculative Williams cross from the left when he chested the ball straight to Honeyman.
Honeyman’s close-range effort was brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar by Thomas Kaminski.
Keane Lewis-Potter’s follow-up was closer to the nearby River Humber than the back of the net.
Blackburn looked beaten and Lewis-Potter nearly added further gloss when he screwed a swerving shot fractionally wide late on.
What the managers said…
Hull manager Grant McCann on his future: “All we can do is to try and focus the boys. Hopefully these things [speculation about his future] will be answered in the next few days.
“It’s very hard for us to control that [the future under Ilicali]. There’s nothing we can do. It’s very hard for me to answer these questions. I’ve enjoyed my time here and if it’s longer I’ll be delighted. If it’s not, that’s business.
“I’ve not met him [Ilicali] as yet. I’m sure that will happen within the next couple of days. I do think the players do need a bit of help. It’s been tough but this group of players have got a real mentality and a real character. This is a massive football club. We are looking forward to seeing what’s next.”
Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray: “We fell a little bit short. We huffed and puffed but it was a difficult night.
“We had a lot of opportunities that, at the end of the day we might have scored. Hull had their chances and worked hard and scored two goals.
“I don’t want to be critical of this team. They’ve been amazing for two months and have worked their socks off.”