HULL CITY’S Tom Eaves picked the perfect time to score his first goal for the club, producing a brilliant header to defeat in-form Sheffield Wednesday.
The 27 year-old striker, a summer signing from Gillingham, had failed to find the net in his opening 10 games but showed his class with a 72nd minute winner last night.
Eaves had barely been on the pitch five minutes after replacing Josh Magennis when he steadied himself, stooped and arrowed a fine effort past a despairing Keiren Westwood from 12m out.
It came from an excellent cross from wide on the right by captain Eric Lichaj and was a rare piece of clinical finishing when others on both sides had stuttered for so long.
He set Kamil Grosicki up, too, late on with a neat exchange but his team-mate’s effort was blocked by the advancing Westwood.
It mattered not as Grant McCann’s side pressed on to go five games unbeaten and finally get a win after being in danger of becoming draw specialists.
Their Yorkshire opponents, meanwhile, were left to bemoan missed chances, not least Adam Reach’s effort blazed over the bar deep into injury-time, but also a penalty call that even McCann admitted should have been awarded.
Wednesday had been mightily impressive when vanquishing Middlesbrough 4-1 on Saturday but lost here for the first time the four games league games since Garry Monk took over.
They were without Scotland striker Steven Fletcher, who suffered an ankle injury in that match and had scored five goals in 10 outings so far this campaign.
Atdhe Nuhiu and Sam Winnall, who started up front, had only netted three between them all campaign and, at times, it showed.
Neither lacked effort but there was not enough precision and Hull, who improved in the second half and finished stronger, were deserved winners, Jordy de Wijs proving excellent in the heart of their defence.
Wednesday started the brightest with Barry Bannan having one of his trademark curling left-footed efforts tipped away by George Long.
Winnall was then left totally unmarked for a clear header at the resulting corner but, this time, it did nothing to trouble the keeper.
Nothing much did in that first half at either end. At times, fans must have been longing simply to head to the nearby famous Hull Fair for some excitement but that does not open until Friday.
There was a half-hearted claim for a penalty when Long clattered into Winnall coming out to deal with Bannan’s whipped in cross in the 18th minute.
In fairness, it was an almighty collision but the Wednesday forward quickly regained his feet and did not seem too aggrieved by the challenge.
Winnall was one of the visitors’ more involved players, escaping the offside trap to race onto Moses Odubajo’s neat ball to pull back for Atdhe Nuhiu.
However, the burly striker’s shot was well-blocked by Reece Burke and Hull swiftly countered to see Jarrod Bowen fire off an effort of his own that curled narrowly wide.
There was little finesse from either side, though, when it mattered most; Grosicki’s 25 yard free-kick was struck well enough but never truly troubled Westwood and Hull’s rearguard scrambled whenever there was a whiff of danger.
For instance, Winnall found some space in the box again after clever trickery from Sam Hutchinson in the left channel but once more help was on hand, this time Jackson Irvine arriving to irritate at the crucial moment.
When Bannan pierced them to find Nuhiu, the Kosovo international swung wildly and failed to get anything near a decent connection.
Fortunately, his embarrassment was eased somewhat by an assistant referee raising his flag for offside.
Bowen should have done better late in the half for the hosts but his first touch deserted him after Grosicki and Irvine combined well to create the opportunity.
Winnall wasted another good chance at the start of the second period with a poor header but there was no denying Eaves’ finishing prowess when his opportunity came.
Wednesday, meanwhile, will be without midfielder Hutchinson for Saturday’s game against Wigan as he collected his fifth booking of the season.
Hull City: Long; Lichaj, de Wijs, Burke, Fleming; Stewart; Bowen, Honeyman (Batty 78), Irvine, Grosicki (Bowler 87); Magennis (Eaves 66). Substitutes unused: Ingram, Tafazolli, Pennington, Lopes.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Odubajo, Iorfa, Borner, Palmer; Reach, Hutchinson (Lee 78), Bannan, Harris (Murphy 59); Winnall (Rhodes 68), Nuhiu. Substitutes unused: Dawson, Fox, Pelupessy, Luongo.
Referee: A Davies