Twelve months ago, Grant McCann tasted the horrible pain of relegation. Against Lincoln City, goals from two of the players who went down with him – Josh Magennis and Mallik Wilks – earned redemption.
Magennis's early goal ought to have secured smooth passage back to the Championship but this being football, it did not work out like that.
It was a deserved 2-1 win, but not a straight-forward one.
McCann's conservatism, perhaps conscious of the prize in front of him, let Lincoln back into the game and even after Wilks's restored the lead with a penalty, Brennan Johnson hit the post with an effort which, a few inches to the left would have delayed – but surely not cancelled the postponement party.
As it is, Hull have been rewarded for holding their nerve and standing by McCann.
He did not rip things up and start again this season. What took Hull down was arguably a squad with two many League One signings but if the likes of Magennis and Wilks did not have it in them to keep the club in the second tier after the deadline-day sales of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, their combined 37 league goals have been a big factor in the Hull player being able to sing “Wen are going up!” as they bounced about on the field before breaking out the champagne.
Hungry to take the prize of promotion rather than intimidated by it the kick off, the Tigers were quickly out of the blocks.
It took just two minutes for Josh Magennis to have a header at goal, from George Honeyman's free-kick and although he put it wide, he was back for the next delivery from that side. It came from full-back Lewie Coyle turning in on his right and this time Magennis got his foot on it. His boot was high but telescopically stretched so far in front of his marker as to not be dangerous, except to the scoresheet.
It was Magennis's fifth goal in four matches, hitting form when it matters to put him level with Mallik Wilks on 18 goals for the season.
Hull ought to have added to their tally, but the forwards flanking Magennis were not in the same goalscoring form. That is the beauty of their front three, though, if one does not get you, another usually will. When they needed Wilks the most, he was super-cool.
Keane Lewis-Potter hit another Coyle cross into a defender and his volley from the rebound was also blocked, then stretching a bit to a Magennis cross that was a fraction behind him, he was not quite able to steer his header on target.
Wilks came into his own later in the half, forcing Alex Palmer into a good save, then going on an excellent dribble which deserved better than the weak shot at the end of it.
Hull were working hard too, Wilks putting in an excellent tackle tracking back after 16 minutes.
Honeyman got embroiled in a midfield battle, harshly in the book for a 17th-minute foul and causing consternation amongst the home playters with the solid tackle on Jorge Grant which saw him release Lewis-Potter down the left. He was spoken to the referee for another foul a minute later.
Grant and Conor McGrandles, the men he did battle with, also made their way into the book before half-time. All were substituted before the end, but it was Honeyman's withdrawal which had the biggest bearing on the game.
Matt Ingram had to stretch to keep out Lincoln's first shot of the half on 31 minutes, but it did not overly test him, and generally black-and-amber bodies left him to enjoy the sunshine.
At half-time, though, caution kicked in. Taking Honeyman off was sensible but bringing on central defender Reece Burke out for him sent out a message Lincoln heeded loud and clear.
They were able to take the initiative with Grant influential but the Tigers saw him off, the midfielder withdrawn 62 minutes into his first start since February, only to fall behind three minutes later.
With Gavin Whyte ready to come on, Lewis Montsma arrived at the far post to volley in a corner.
Hull were jolted into action and the game became open, Alex Palmer saving from Wilks at a tight angle. The forward then shot straight at him after good footwork to make the chance.
Montsma thumped a free-kick which was straight at Ingram, but needed two attempt to hold.
In the 69th minute Dan Crowley, the obvious half-time replacement for Honeyman, came on for Regan Slater to restore the midfield balance.
Hull got their win when Regan Poole climbed all over substitute Tom Eaves from another Coyle cross and Wilks calmly strolled up to the spot kick and sent Palmer the wrong way.
Ingram's poor 90th-minute kick forced Jacob Greaves into an excellent tackle but when the ball came loose it fell to Johnson.
Hull were not to be stopped. The shot his the post and the Tigers are back. Now for the title.
Lincoln City: Palmer; Poole, Eyoma, Montsma, Edun (Jones73); Grant (Bramall 62), McGrandles (Bridcutt 73); Scully (Hopper 78), Johnson; Rogers; Morton.
Unused substitutes: Sanders, Anderson, Long.
Hull City: Ingram; Coyle, A Jones, Greaves, Elder; Slater (Crowley 69), Docherty; Wilks, Honeyman (Burke 45), Lewis-Potter (Whyte 65); Magennis (Eaves 73).
Unused substitutes: Long, Smallwood, Emmanuel.
Referee: S Purkiss (London)
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