Josh Emmanuel’s return to the Hull City starting XI coincided with the Tigers’ first victory since the opening weekend of the season on Saturday.
Grant McCann’s men were able to claw themselves out of the relegation zone with three points thanks to a Joe Lumley own goal and a late strike from Mallik Wilks.
Emmanuel was reintroduced at right wing back and he hailed the tactical decisions of his manager were crucial to getting the win when he spoke to HullLive.
He said: “I think the new system gave us a bit more freedom and rotation. But to be honest, the confidence and team morale has never been questioned. The gaffer has been saying that the wins will come because the performances have not been bad.”
The change of system also saw Keane Lewis-Potter drop back into an unfamiliar left wing back role to great effect as the battle ensued for 81 minutes before the deadlock was broken.
It was a bold move to play a front two of Tyler Smith and Tom Eaves but it paid dividends for McCann who ensured the Middlesbrough backline had a lot to contend with from start to finish. The win comes at a great time lifting the Tigers out of the bottom three, now with two weeks to prepare for the next stretch of matches.
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Middlesbrough were not at their best in this one and struggled to capitalise on their midweek 2-0 win over Sheffield United. Despite threatening at times Hull were able to tame the front pair of Andraz Sporar and Duncan Watmore.
With two weeks to dwell on the disappointing result the pressure is intensifying over Neil Warnock’s position at the Riverside where McCann will have bought himself some more time. The Tigers still face an uphill battle to survive in the Championship this season but with the manager thinking outside the box with his team selections and tactical switches they stand a good chance.