Swansea City claimed the first league win of Luke Williams’ tenure as Liam Cullen’s goal gave them victory over play-off hopefuls Hull City at the MKM Stadium.
Cullen swept home a Josh Tymon corner in the 11th minute for his fifth goal of the season, and it proved the difference, although the Swans margin of victory could have been greater given the promising positions they got themselves into.
They also defended stoutly when required as the visitors followed their head coach’s demand that they show belief in themselves despite being viewed as underdogs, and it yielded a deserved three points and a first away win at Hull since 2014.
And there will be plenty for Williams and his squad to take from this showing with Ronald and Przemyslaw Placheta posing a threat out wide, and Tymon and Jay Fulton outstanding further back.
The Swans had shown two changes from defeat against Plymouth Argyle as Placheta was handed his first start while Cullen led the line in attack as Ollie Cooper and Jerry Yates dropped to the bench.
The visitors made a positive start, enjoying good spells of possession and working space for Tymon to deliver a fizzing cross that had too much on it for Cullen arriving at the far post.
Swansea pressed again with Grimes seeing a delivery cut out from Placheta’s lay-off and, from the resulting corner, they took an 11th-minute lead.
A clever rehearsed routine saw Cullen peel away from his marker to meet Tymon’s low deliver and send the ball into the bottom corner of the net at the near post.
Hull looked to respond but Tymon made a good block as Jaden Philogene looked to flash a volley goalward from the right side of the box.
Swansea soon came close to a second. Ronald stood up his marker and then beat him for pace to fire in a hard and flat cross.
Placheta met it at the far stick, and attempted to nod it down for Cullen. However, the striker had already attempted to meet the ball himself and there was no-one there to fire home.
Ronald sent the ball wide after a low free-kick from Grimes had found him ahead of his marker at the near post.
But the visitors had a let-off just beyond the half-hour mark when a flick on from a Hull free-looped in the air and Rushworth hesitated before electing not to come and claim it.
That left Ozan Tufan with a free header eight yards out, but it was straight at the Swansea keeper.
Fabio Carvalho fired wide for the Tigers before the Swans spurned a big chance on half-time as Placheta was freed down the left but could not pick out Cullen at the far post as he under hit his final pass with the Wales international unmarked.
The Swans also made a good start to the second period, with Tymon, Grimes and Placheta again prominent.
But a period where they were wasteful in possession allowed their hosts to have a decent spell of pressure, although without testing Rushworth.
But the keeper needed Nathan Wood to make an important clearance when he rushed off his line to reach a long ball only to be beaten to it by Bill Sharp.
The Hull substitute prodded the ball beyond the keeper to send it goalward, but Wood covered back to prevent the ball crossing the line.
The Swans were then unable to convert a great chance as Ronald’s header from Tymon’s cross cannoned off a defender to Cullen, but the striker spooned his effort wide.
Williams sent on Joe Allen and Yates in place of Placheta and Cullen with 25 minutes to play as the Swans switched shape.
Yates was so nearly picked out by Paterson seconds after his introduction, but could not quite beat Allsop to the vicious inswinging cross.
Hull threw on more and more attacking bodies as Aaron Connolly and Adama Traore came on, but the Swans defender well and threatened on the counter. Ronald had a volley blocked before Tymon’s near-post drive was tipped round the post.
Grimes then saw his low drive spilled by Allsop and cleared, before the Tigers keeper managed to parry a stinging drive from Tymon after Yates had laid off to the left-back on the edge of the box.
Hull even threw keeper Allsop up for a series of set-pieces in stoppage time, but Swansea held out.
Swansea City: Carl Rushworth, Jay Fulton (Charlie Patino 78), Ben Cabango, Matt Grimes (captain), Jamie Paterson, Josh Tymon, Przemyslaw Placheta (Joe Allen 66), Liam Cullen (Jerry Yates 66), Nathan Wood, Kyle Naughton (Bashir Humphreys 74), Ronald (Ollie Cooper 78).
Unused Substitutes: Andy Fisher, Mykola Kuharevich, Charles Sagoe Jr, Filip Lissah.
Hull City: Ryan Allsop, Lewie Coyle (captain) (Billy Sharp 55), Ryan Giles, Jacob Greaves, Alfie Jones, Ozan Tufan (Adama Traore 68), Tyler Murton, Jaden Philogene, Regan Slater, Fabio Carvalho (Abdulkadir Omur 76), Anass Zaroury (Aaron Connolly 68).
Unused Substitutes: Ivor Pandur, Sean McLoughlin, Greg Docherty, Noah Ohio, Matty Jacob.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham