Hull City moved out of the Championship drop zone as Mallik Wilks’ stoppage-time strike gave them a dramatic victory over relegation rivals Middlesbrough, who were beaten for the first time under new boss Neil Warnock.
After a 2-0 win at fellow-strugglers Stoke in Warnock’s first game in charge on Saturday, a rejuvenated Boro took an early lead at the KCOM Stadium through Britt Assombalonga’s well-struck penalty.
But the Tigers retaliated soon afterwards when Herbie Kane curled a brilliant, direct free-kick past Dejan Stojanovic, with what was the night’s best moment of quality.
The remainder of the game was relatively nervy and cagey, until Wilks flicked home from close range in the dying moments, lifting Hull up to 19th in the table.
The result saw Stoke drop in to the bottom three, while Boro are just one point above the Potters with six rounds of matches remaining.
Victory was Hull’s first in the league since New Year’s Day and ended a run of 14 games without a win in all competitions.
Grant McCann’s men had lost 11 of those previous 14 and appeared to be tumbling towards League One, particularly since the January departures of talismanic duo Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki.
The Tigers still have work to do to avoid the drop but Thursday’s result will give a huge lift to McCann’s side, who celebrated wildly as Wilks won the game with just moments remaining.
Amid their relief and elation there was some concern for the hosts as their first goalscorer Kane had to be withdrawn on 28 minutes with a suspected muscle problem, having levelled with his expert free-kick.
Boro had edged possession and arguably had the better of the few chances in the game, but their run of two straight away wins was brought to an end.
Their expressions at full-time where in stark contrast to their joy early on, after Jordy de Wijs had fouled Hayden Coulson in the area and Assombalonga had found the top corner from the spot to net his first goal since November.
Warnock’s side will bid to boost their survival hopes when they host Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, while Hull face a tricky-looking trip to promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion.