MENTION Bristol City to any Hull City supporter and thoughts will invariably turn to ‘that’ volley at Wembley by Dean Windass.
A League Cup fourth-round victory over the same opposition will never compare with the golden afternoon in 2008 that saw the East Riding city’s long, long wait for top-flight football finally brought to an end.
But, should Mike Phelan’s side go on to turn around what in recent weeks has been shaping up to be a desperate season, maybe last night’s triumph over the Robins at Ashton Gate will be viewed in a similarly favourable light.
Certainly, the manner in which Hull moved into the League Cup quarter-finals for only the second time suggested a corner had been turned.
There was one last-gasp scare when Eldin Jakupovic and Curtis Davies combined to deny Tammy Abraham after Lee Tomlin had pulled a goal back in the second minute of stoppage-time.
But this deserved victory was a timely boost to confidence levels that had taken as much of a hammering over the past month as the Yorkshire club’s goal difference.
Goals from Harry Maguire and Michael Dawson either side of the interval settled the tie in Hull’s favour and Phelan’s task now is to ensure this new-found belief is taken into Saturday’s Premier League encounter at Watford.
In that respect, the Tigers’ chief is likely to be aided by last night’s starting XI being very similar to the one that should take the field at Vicarage Road with only David Marshall and Sam Clucas likely to come in.
There was, in fact, an argument that the team sent out to face the Robins was stronger than the one that had lost so lamely to Stoke City just four days earlier.
Not only did the Tigers side contain eight full internationals that cost the Yorkshire club £40m in transfer fees, but Abel Hernandez was back leading the attack.
The Uruguayan netted 20 times in last season’s promotion success and if the Tigers are to have any hopes of survival among the elite this time around then he will have to be a key figure.
Hernandez, a frustrated substitute as Phelan’s men lost woefully to both Bournemouth and the Potters, looked sharp against Lee Johnson’s Robins.
His ability to create something from very little was evident midway through the first half when the ball fell to the striker after Markus Henriksen had lost an aerial duel.
Play was 25 yards from the home goal, but Hernandez had just one thought, and his thunderous shot left Richard O’Donnell grasping at air only for the ball to crash against the crossbar.
The Uruguayan was also responsible for perhaps the most incisive pass of those opening 45 minutes, his deft spreading of the play to Ahmed Elmohamady on the right flank opening the hosts up to such an extent that there was a palpable sense of relief among the home fans in a 16,149 crowd when Aden Flint managed to avert the danger by heading the subsequent cross behind.
Flint, however, could do nothing about Hull’s opening goal on the stroke of half-time. A deep in-swinging corner from the left-hand flank floated over not only O’Donnell, but also a scrum of his defenders.
Maguire, arriving late at the back post, was the man to capitalise with a close-range header that ensured the visitors went in at the break ahead.
It was a lead Hull just about deserved after nullifying the threat of the hosts in admirable fashion.
Bobby Reid did have a shot that flew five or so yards over just after the half-hour but, otherwise, Hull’s three-man defence dealt with everything that the hosts could throw at them.
Dawson, with a couple of vital blocks, played a big role in frustrating the Robins and the Tigers’ captain then added to the hosts’ woes by doubling the lead 68 seconds after the restart. Mason’s incisive delivery from a corner again created the opening and Dawson did the rest with a bullet header.
Adama Diomande went close to adding a third before Johnson, who had made nine changes to the side that beat Blackburn Rovers last weekend, turned to his big guns. On came Tammy Abraham and Lee Tomlin for the home side, who enjoyed their best spell of the game as Marlon Pack shot just wide and Jakupovic saved bravely from Callum O’Dowda.
Jakupovic also denied Tomlin with a fine reflex block but Hull, thanks to their superior passing game, continued to threaten as Hernandez had a shot cleared off the line before later being denied by O’Donnell.
Back came the Robins and Tomlin’s 92nd-minute strike set up a frantic finale that ended with Davies blocking Abraham’s shot on the line.
Bristol City: O’Donnell; Little, Flint, Moore, Golbourne; Pack, Reid; O’Dowda, Engvall (McCoulsky 75), Bryan (Abraham 60); Wilbraham (Tomlin 59). Unused substitutes: Lucic, O’Neil, Brownhill, Magnusson.
Hull City: Jakupovic; Maguire, Dawson, Davies; Elmohamady, Livermore, Henriksen, Mason (Huddlestone 79), Tymon; Diomande, Hernandez (Meyler 89). Unused substitutes: Kuciak, Bowen, Clucas, Maloney, Weir.
Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire).