Burnley boss Sean Dyche brought Barnes into the side in the one change to his starting line-up from last Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Arsenal and the striker rewarded his manager’s faith, heading home the winner on 50 minutes from Keiran Trippier’s cross.
Hull were poor and almost went behind in the first period when Danny Ings drew a great save from Steve Harper. Paul McShane then got his clearance wrong and Robbie Brady had to clear off the line.
Burnley were then playing against 10 men for the final 20 minutes – Hull captain Curtis Davies having been forced off with an injury when his side had already made three substitutions – but Dyche’s team could not add to their tally.
That will not bother Burnley fans, who had not celebrated a Premier League win for their team since May 2010.
And while Dyche’s side remain bottom of the table they are now only two points from safety, having taken their total to seven. Hull, who have not scored in three straight games, stay two points clear of the drop zone in 14th place.
The hosts almost had a goal in the opening minute when the ball was lofted forward and Ings got the better of his marker James Chester before hooking just wide of the far post as Harper came out to meet him.
Soon after, Abel Hernandez tried to carve out room for a shot at the other end and sent a tame effort off-target.
Hull were on the attack again four minutes later when Michael Duff gave the ball away and Sone Aluko burst forward, but his progress was halted in the box by a fine challenge from Clarets skipper Jason Shackell.
Burnley’s ex-Hull man George Boyd then saw a scuffed shot easily collected by Harper, before the hosts went the closest yet to breaking the deadlock.
From a corner, the ball came to Ings and his shot brought a great save out of Harper. The rebound was nearly sliced into his own net by McShane, but Brady was on hand to hack the ball off the line.
Burnley fans subsequently appealed for a penalty when Brady tackled Scott Arfield in the box, but referee Mark Clattenburg gave a free-kick on the edge of the area instead for a foul by McShane on Barnes, and the set-piece amounted to nothing.
Dyche’s team seemed to be gifted a corner five minutes later as Harper inadvertently carried the ball over the touchline as he made a catch, but again, they could not make the opening count for anything.
Ings tried to embarrass Harper further towards the end of the first half, attempting to catch the goalkeeper off his line with a shot from inside the Burnley half, but his ambitious effort lacked accuracy, and McShane then sent a header over just before the whistle for the break.
The Clarets continued to probe at the start of the second half and got their reward five minutes in when Barnes rose to crash home Trippier’s cross.
It was Barnes’ first goal of the season, and the first time his side had even led a game since their campaign-opening 3-1 loss here to Chelsea.
Hull boss Steve Bruce responded by making three substitutions, bringing on Stephen Quinn, Gaston Ramirez and Hatem Ben Arfa for Aluko, Tom Huddlestone and Chester, before Boyd controlled the ball from a Harper punch and lashed it into the stand.
Davies was similarly well off-target as he miscued an acrobatic effort, landing awkwardly on his back, and his afternoon’s work then came to an early end as he had to depart the field injured, leaving Hull a player short.
Hernandez fired a warning with a turn and shot wide from the edge of the area, but a poor Hull could not muster much else.
Neither could Burnley, despite the man advantage, but when the final whistle was blown by Clattenburg – who made a late flurry of bookings – they had done enough to earn the win which gives them real hope heading into the international break.
Matt Le Tissier’s verdict
It wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but I was really impressed with the work-rate of the Burnley players. It’s the first time I’ve watched Burnley on Soccer Saturday this season and those boys put in a shift and got their rewards for it with the goal just after half-time. They looked the more likely side and had the best couple of chances in the first half.
Hull very rarely threatened. I watched Hull away at Arsenal when they did look dangerous on the counter, but today they didn’t threaten at all. They had one shot on target in the whole game, which was comfortable for the Burnley keeper and there was very little else. They threw on Ben Arfa and Ramirez to try and give them a little bit of creativity and neither of them really sparked anything or created too much. It wasn’t what I was used to seeing from Hull. They’ve been more dangerous than that in recent weeks.