Jimmy Bullard marked his return to competitive action with a stunning strike for Hull City Reserves but it was visitors Bolton Wanderers who came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory at Church Road on Tuesday night.
Bullard, who was making his comeback from the knee injury suffered at West Ham in January, was one of two changes made to the side that lost 2-1 against Burnley. Liam Cooper had recovered from a slight hamstring problem and so he returned in the centre of defence, with Sonny Bradley and Tom Cairney being the two to drop out. Bolton were dealt a blow when, having travelled to Ferriby with only three substitutes, Rhys Bennett was injured in the pre-match warm up and Aaron Mooy took his place in the starting line up.
A crowd of 1,265 turned up to see the return of Bullard but it was Bryan Hughes who almost created an early opening for the Tigers, with Bolton keeper Rob Lainton just beating Ryan Kendall to his through ball.
Matt Duke saved from Mooy and held Javlon Campbell's header before Bullard demonstrated his passing skills to release Nathan Hanley down the left. The Irish youngster's cross was met by the onrushing Craig Fagan but he couldn't get his effort on target.
Kendall did well to win the ball in the Bolton half and send Will Atkinson through but he hit his left foot shot straight at Lainton.
It took a superb save from Duke to deny Michael O'Halloran midway through the first half and Joe Riley's cross was then deflected onto the top of Duke's crossbar.
Bullard was back in the action with a right foot drive that was deflected wide and Steven Mouyokolo headed a Hughes cross straight at Lainton, although the offside flag meant that it wouldn't have counted anyway.
Mooy broke clear for the Trotters but he delayed and allowed Cooper to get back to block his shot and Lainton had to save from Kendall after the City striker had seized on a poor clearance.
Bullard's return was prolonged by a minute of stoppage time and the former Fulham man made ample use of the extra sixty seconds to open the scoring. A quick throw from Duke sent Fagan racing clear and although his shot was blocked by Lainton City soon regained possession. Bullard worked the ball onto his right foot and hammered a shot from 25 yards into the top corner that Lainton could only stand and admire as it flew past him.
Half Time: Hull City Reserves 1 Bolton Wanderers Reserves 0
As expected Bullard was withdrawn at the interval, with Gavan Holohan replacing him.
Bolton began the second period stronger and Danny Ward and O'Halloran had already been off target with strikes before they drew level in the 51st minute with a huge slice of luck. Ward's low left foot drive took a huge deflection off Cooper that gave Duke no chance as the ball nestled in the opposite corner of the net.
Campbell then had a shot deflected just over although he did appear to handle in the build up, before Fagan superbly controlled Duke's long kick but then failed to get his left foot strike on target.
Mouyokolo then had a lucky escape when he failed to clear a bouncing ball but O'Halloran blasted his shot over the bar.
Cooper then met a Hughes corner but his downward header bounced up and over the bar and when Mark Cullen's cross from the right eventually found its way to Kendall his shot was cleared off the line by Mark Connelly.
Just as City had begun to look the more threatening it was the Trotters who took the points with an 82nd minute winner when Zoltan Harsanyi's cross from the left was headed past Duke by Ward.
The City keeper then saved from O'Halloran whilst the nearest the Tigers came to an equaliser saw Hughes lift the ball over the Bolton defence for Kendall but his effort was held by Lainton.
Hull City: Matt Duke, John Leonard, Nathan Hanley, Bryan Hughes, Steven Mouyokolo, Liam Cooper, Jimmy Bullard (Gavan Holohan 46), Nicky Featherstone, Craig Fagan (Mark Cullen 64), Ryan Kendall, Will Atkinson.
Subs not used: Bill Ward, Danny Wilkinson, Joe Fox.
Bolton Wanderers: Rob Lainton, Joe Riley (Zoltan Harsanyi 62), Adam Blakeman, Tom Eckersley (Marcos Michail 54), Mark Connolly, Aaron Mooy, Maison McGeechan, Stuart McDonald, Danny Ward, Javlon Campbell, Michael O'Halloran.