Hull rode their luck to end their losing streak after six matches, without really suggesting that they had turned the corner. They gave Salford a 10-point start and overhauled them, largely thanks to the skills of Richard Horne and Chris Thorman, but they then hung on in a messy second half that could have tilted either way.
"We needed a win and it didn't much matter how we did it," said a relieved Hull coach, Richard Agar.
"It was a really good effort, especially in the second half," said Salford's Shaun McRae about their performance against his former club. "But there was a period in the first half where we probably lost it."
Few home debuts at The Willows can have yielded as instant a dividend as Darrell Goulding's. Goulding, on loan from Wigan, intercepted a pass from Richard Horne – who volunteered to switch to full-back in Hull's latest attempt to solve their problem position – and went 50 metres for the try.
That was after just two minutes and things looked even better for the Reds when Craig Stapleton broke through and set up Richie Myler. John Wilshere could not kick a second conversion and it was his fumble that conceded the possession from which Hull began their reply. Chris Thorman's long, looping pass sent Mark Calderwood over in the corner and then, in the 16th minute, Hull were level. Lee Jewitt lost the ball trying to clear his line and the Salford defence was too slow to stop Richard Horne ghosting through.
The visitors hit the front on the half-hour when Salford were penalised for offside on their own line and Thorman's pass sent in Richard Whiting.
Hull would have been further ahead at the start of the second half if Kirk Yeaman had not had a try disallowed for obstruction. Instead, Salford got to within two points when Goulding touched down, well enough to persuade the video referee, from Myler's kick. Salford then had two great chances. The referee, Jamie Leahy, ruled against them when his touch judges were split over whether Wilshere's penalty had gone over, and then Myler dropped Adam Sidlow's pass after the prop split the defence.
There was still time, after Danny Tickle's penalty stretched Hull's lead, for what would have been the most controversial of finishes when Myler stole the ball from the scrum-base, but Stefan Ratchford's last-minute kick down the line ran dead.
Salford: Wilshere; Ratchford, Littler, Turner, Goulding; Smith, Myler; Cashmere, Alker, Stapleton, Parker, Adamson, Swain. Substitutes used: Leuluai, Jewitt, Sidlow, Paul.
Hull: R Horne; Calderwood, Whiting, Yeaman, G Horne; Washbrook, Thorman; Dowes, Lee, Thackray, Manu, Tickle, Radford. Substitutes used: Houghton, Burnett, Maloney, Cusack.
Referee: J Leahy (Dewsbury).