Abdoulaye Faye marked his return to the Hull City side with the winning goal at Derby to move the Tigers level on points with Championship leaders Cardiff.
The defender headed home early in the second half as victory at Pride Park for the third successive season saw Steve Bruce’s team climb up to second place in the table ahead of today’s fixtures.
Robert Koren had put the visitors in front, but Michael Jacobs levelled things up for Nigel Clough’s side on the stroke of half-time. Hull had to survive some late pressure from Derby but the team with the best away record in the division held on for a fourth successive win on the road.
It was only a second home defeat in the league for Derby and they were unfairly booed off by some supporters at the end.
James O’Connor replaced Mark O’Brien at centre-half for Derby while Hull were also forced to change a winning team. Eldin Jakupovic made his debut in goal following David Stockdale’s return to Fulham while Faye replaced the suspended Alex Bruce, who was sent off against Huddersfield Town last Saturday.
The opening quarter of the match was entertaining despite a lack of goalmouth action, with Derby regularly earning the appreciation of their supporters for the way they pressurised Hull high up the pitch and suffocated the Tigers’ attacks at source.
Jacobs looked threatening down the left and it was good link-up play between him and Will Hughes that brought the crowd to their feet for the first time.
Hull had to make a succession of last-ditch tackles and interceptions to eventually stem the danger as Jacobs and then Hughes attempted to slalom their way through the area towards goal.
It could be argued that it was against the run of play that the visitors went ahead. Robbie Brady crossed from the left and his ball across the six-yard line was swept home by the left-foot of Koren.
Craig Bryson had Derby’s first shot in anger immediately afterwards, with Jakupovic doing well to hold a 25-yard effort.
A half-time deficit would have been harsh on Derby and Jacobs ensured there was no such injustice with a superb equaliser in first-half stoppage time when Faye could only head Paul Coutts’s corner as far as the edge of the area, where Jacobs controlled the ball and volleyed home.
However, Faye made amends five minutes into the second half, heading home unmarked following Brady’s corner.
Derby County: Legzdins, Brayford, Keogh, O’Connor, Roberts (Davies 87), Coutts, Bryson, Hughes, Hendrick, Jacobs (Robinson 78), Sammon. Unused substitutes: Fielding,Tyson, O’Brien, Gjokaj, Freeman.
Hull City: Jakupovic, Chester, Hobbs, Faye, Elmohamady, Quinn, Evans, Brady, Meyler, Koren (Cairney 89), Simpson (Proschwitz 76). Unused substitutes: Amos, Rosenior, Mclean, McShane, Olofinjana.
Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey).