Jarrod Bowen’s brilliance illuminated Hull’s path to the fifth round in a surprise win over the recent conquerors of Arsenal and Wolves.
Forest started favourites but flopped with a near-full strength side while much-changed Hull fully deserved their win.
Bowen shone brightest of all as the 21-year-old midfielder, a talent on many a radar, rewarded Hull’s hunger to rescue their season.
The brilliance of Jarrod Bowen and Nouha Dicko was the difference for Hull on Saturday
The Tigers eased past Nottingham Forest at the KCOM to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup
Bowen and Dicko both scored in the first half to put Nigel Adkins’ side on course for victory
The former Hereford player scored the first goal and set up Nouha Dicko for the second. No fewer than eight Premier League clubs were understood to be watching Bowen here.
Hull (4-2-3-1): Marshall, Aina, Mazuch, Hector, Clark, Stewart, Henriksen, Bowen, Irvine, Diomande (Grosicki 71), Dicko (Keane 62)
Subs not used: McGregor, Batty, Dawson, Campbell, Tomori
Goals: Bowden 18, Dicko 40
Manager: Nigel Adkins
Nottm Forest (4-2-3-1): Smith, Lichaj, Worrall, Mancienne, Fox, Carayol (Clough 46), Bouchalakis (Vaughan 46), Cash, Osborn, Dowell, Brereton (Vellios 80)
Subs not used: Mills, McKay, Darikwa, Henderson
Goals: Vellios 88
Manager: Aitor Karanka
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Everton, Newcastle, Brighton and Burnley were believed to be among them. That drew a defiant response from Hull boss Nigel Adkins, who said: ‘I won’t sell him, simple as that. I’m looking to build.’
But Adkins admitted the window would create a ‘destabilising week’ – and it would be surprising if Hull were not tested with a multi-million pound offer for the 21-year-old midfielder.
Here were two teams in the bottom half of the Championship; both falling way below expectations.
But if momentum was to be a factor, you’d have thought it would be all with Forest.
And it wasn’t just new manager bounce. Forest were between bosses when, under caretaker Gary Brazil, they hammered Arsenal 4-2 in the previous round.
That shaft of light broadened into a beam when the incoming Aitor Karanka claimed a brilliant first win, 2-0 away to rampant Championship leaders Wolves last weekend.
By contrast, Hull were stumbling to defeat at hitherto bottom team Sunderland – and any bounce effect from changing bosses has certainly bypassed the KCom Stadium.
Aitor Karanka’s side came into the clash on the back of a victory over Arsenal in round three
Overall, Nigel Adkins had tasted victory only twice in two matches since succeeding Leonid Slutsky.
Hull were without a win in seven in the Championship, out of the relegation places only on goal difference.
So it might be misleading to say their eight changes disrespected the competition.
Many would have been justified regardless. But it was an impressive statement by Karanka to make only one change – and that enforced.
Mustapha Carayol replaced the suspended Liam Bridcutt. Carayol was first to threaten, firing just wide, only for Hull’s shadow squad to take charge.
Showing real purpose and drive, they forced Jordan Smith into saves from Markus Henriksen and Bowen, who was not to be denied for long.
Bowen still had to do it the hard way, having hit a post from 25 yards after Forest’s keeper stranded himself outside his area.
Mustapha Carayol takes aim from distance but the visitors failed to get a foothold in the game
Haring in from the right, the young midfielder looked like being unlucky again when his deflected drive hit the bar – but this time it rebounded into the net. Bowen was also involved in the second, showing the range of his talent.
When Jackson Irvine hoisted a high cross, 5ft 9ins Bowen was second favourite at the far post. But he climbed to head across goal for Dicko to meet it with another header, which went in off the post.
Dicko was denied by Smith after the break and substitute Will Keane, advancing his comeback after 14 months out, twice came close.
Forest at last made a game of it with Kieran Dowell and Ben Brereton both hitting the woodwork and Joe Worrall forcing a great save from David Marshall.
Forest substitute Apostolos Vellios ensured a tense finish but manager Aitor Karanka, who claimed his first win at the expense of the Championship leaders, said: ‘I don’t like excuses. We did it at Wolves last week but not here.’