NAME on the Cup? Probably not. But Hull City certainly rode their luck last night before booking a place in the League Cup fourth round for only the fifth time in the club’s history.
David Meyler netted the winner shortly before the interval, but it was how the Tigers somehow managed to hold out during a match that was largely dominated by the visitors that was the real story of an entertaining tie.
This was particularly the case during a first half that saw Swansea City have 13 shots on goal to the hosts’ four.
Garry Monk’s men hit a post, had one effort cleared off the line and saw countless other chances go begging during those opening 45 minutes.
Eldin Jakupovic, who has rarely convinced in a Tigers shirt since becoming Steve Bruce’s first signing in 2012, ended the game as the hero for keeping out three of those first-half gilt-edged chances.
But it could have been all so different for the Swiss international, whose first meaningful involvement had come when presenting Swansea with an opportunity it seemed hard not to accept.
First, Jakupovic hesitated long enough in trying to clear that he fired the ball straight against Eder and was fortunate that the ricochet crashed against a post.
Gylfi Sigurdsson then looked certain to convert the rebound after skipping effortlessly past the prone Jakupovic only for his shot to be blocked on the line by Curtis Davies, who was only on the pitch due to Alex Bruce suffering an injury during the warm-up that necessitated a change.
After that incredible double let-off, the suspicion was that the footballing gods were smiling on the Tigers.
And so it proved, as Meyler’s first goal since February proved enough to put Steve Bruce’s men through to tonight’s draw and leave Swansea wondering just how they had managed to crash out of a competition won so convincingly in 2013 when thrashing Bradford City at Wembley.
Along with the resilience and determination that was perhaps best typified by Meyler and Davies, Hull’s other big plus of the night was Jake Livermore’s return to first-team action after the failed drugs test towards the end of last season that had led to the midfielder being suspended by the Yorkshire club.
He was afforded a warm ovation from the 16,286 crowd both before the game and when substituted on 68 minutes, the locals making it clear they shared the compassion shown by the Football Association earlier this month when deciding not to ban the midfielder following the death of his baby son.
Livermore, who tired noticeably on his first outing since May 9, had played his part in Hull’s win, it being his visionary switching of play to the right flank that led directly to Meyler putting the hosts ahead.
The deft pass from Livermore caught the Swansea defence unawares, allowing Ahmed Elmohamady sufficient time and space to whip over an inviting cross.
Shaun Maloney, on his first start for the club, duly powered a header that Kristoffer Nordfeldt did well to palm into the air and Meyler pounced on the rebound.
On the balance of play in that first half, it was scarcely believable that the hosts were ahead – even allowing for Nordfeldt having twice produced fine saves to deny Meyler and Chuba Akpom.
Swansea, who had made 10 changes to the side held to a goalless draw by Everton on Saturday, should have been ahead inside three minutes when Eder somehow managed to knee wide from six yards.
Then came Jakupovic’s awful blunder on 18 minutes that culminated in Davies having to spare his team-mate’s blushes with a goal-line block from Sigurdsson.
Further let-offs came for Hull in the first half when Wayne Routledge and Matthew Grimes headed over. Ki Sung-Yeung, Eder and Angel Rangel also went close during that onslaught from the Premier League club, though this time it was Jakupovic who made amends with reflex saves.
His block to deny Rangel, in particular, was superb and ensured the Tigers went in at the break with a lead that, despite Swansea again dominating possession, they preserved.
Routledge did think he had equalised on 52 minutes only to be ruled offside when latching on to a Grimes pass.
But, otherwise, the best the flagging visitors could muster was a Ki shot that flew wide.
There was still time for Andrew Robertson to frustrate the visitors with a goal-line block to deny Kyle Bartley as Hull booked a place in the fourth round for only the second time since 1978.
Hull City: Jakupovic; Taylor (Odubajo 57), Davies, Maguire, Robertson; Elmohamady, Hayden (Huddlestone 84), Livermore (Clucas 68), Meyler, Maloney; Akpom. Unused substitutes: McGregor, Hernandez, Dawson, Aluko.
Swansea City: Nordfeldt; Rangel, Amat, Bartley, Tabanou (Naughton 71), Britton, Ki, Grimes (Shelvey 55), Sigurdsson; Routledge, Eder (Gomis 63). Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Cork, Naughton, Montero, Fernandez.
Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).