HULL City fans hailed the return of two strikers from injury but it was a third who believes he can go on to score the goals to prevent a second successive relegation.
Nouha Dicko scored a cracker after bursting on to Jon Toral’s through ball from the centre circle, getting between two defenders and smashing the ball into the roof of the net from the left channel.
It put Hull 2-0 ahead in the 36th minute against a Fulham side who had won five of their previous seven Championship matches and should have been enough for a second win in five games under Nigel Adkins.
The Tigers had dominated the visitors and gone ahead four minutes earlier with Jarrod Bowen showing he has certainly come of age this season with his 11th goal of the campaign in his first start under Adkins.
Having celebrated his 21st birthday 10 days earlier, Bowen pounced inside the six-yard area to sidefoot home after Hull had won successive headers following a corner. It crowned a first start after three cameos off the bench following a knee injury against Sheffield Wednesday.
Fraizer Campbell also made a late appearance up front after three games out with knee trouble and with Brazilian play-maker Evandro fit for a place on the bench, Hull’s injury woes, which have seen 17 players sidelined, are lessening.
It’s been two or three games against good teams and we have shown really good things. We have shown we are as good as those teams. We have been unlucky but we have to stay focused and positive. Hopefully things will get better.Nouha Dicko
However, a double substitution in the 40th minute by exasperated Fulham chief Slavisa Jokanovic and a dominant midfield display by former Hull City player Tom Cairney resulted in the visitors taking a deserved point and left Dicko to emerge from what he admitted was a deflated home dressing room.
It could have been a different story had not Aboubakar Kamara converted a 48th minute penalty after a needless trip on him by Michael Hector in the corner of the area – the Fulham player moving away from the danger area after latching on to a ball over the top from Cairney.
It gave Fulham all the impetus they required and substitute Kamara struck again in the 85th minute, placing the ball inside Allan McGregor’s left-hand post following delightful one-touch passing around the edge of the area.
Dicko tried his best to be positive, saying: “We’re really disappointed to have not kept the win but there are some positives to take from this game.
“It’s been two or three games against good teams and we have shown really good things. We have shown we are as good as those teams. We have been unlucky but we have to stay focused and positive. Hopefully things will get better.”
Hull now face a contrasting challenge today against Phil Parkinson’s Wanderers, buoyed by victory at Sheffield United which puts them just two points adrift of the Tigers.
“Bolton is now a big game,” admitted Dicko. “We have to go there with a winning mentality. We started this game very well and we have to go there and try to do the same thing.”
Hull are 19th but just four points separate the bottom six and Dicko continued: “If I said we weren’t looking over our shoulders I would be lying. We are not safe and we have to still look behind us.”
Of his own form, the France-born Mali international said after his third goal of the season: “Recently I have felt really sharp. I have been a bit unlucky with some chances I have had but today I took my chance well. Hopefully there is a lot more to come.
“It’s good for my personal confidence to score. I felt like I have been playing quite well in the last two or three games and I felt like I deserved something more. I’m glad I’ve got the goal and now I will look to be consistent.
“Under the new manager, we are playing high up the pitch, we are pressing teams and making it difficult for them. He has helped me because how we play is more to my strengths. That causes problems for defenders, which is great for me.”
Hull manager Adkins has challenged his side to win 10 games in order to stay up.
“I thought the first half was exceptional,” he said. “We’ve gone 2-0 up, we could have been more.
“We started the second half well - their keeper made a good save from Nouha - and lo and behold one of our defenders has given a stupid penalty away and that changed the complexion of the game for me.
“We’ve got to go again because we play Bolton in 48 hours.
“You look at the league table and we need to get another 10 victories to make sure we’re in the division again next year.”
Of the 10 victories demanded by Adkins, Dicko added: “We can definitely do it. We have to stay positive and believe in ourselves. I am confident in the second half of the season that myself and the team will get better. Hopefully I can score the goals that keep us up.”
Hull City: McGregor, Tomori, Dawson, Hector, Aina; Toral (Campbell 73), Stewart (Henriksen 68), Larsson, Bowen; Irvine; Dicko (Clark 83). Unused substitutes: Marshall, Diomande, Evandro, Clackstone.
Fulham: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Kalas, Ream, Odoi (Piazon 74); Cairney, Johansen, McDonald; Ojo (Kebano 40), Ayite (Kamara 40), Sessegnon. Unused substitutes: Button, Fonte, Norwood, Djalo.
Referee: D Webb (Lancs).