Steve Bruce hailed Jay Simpson after the substitute struck a late goal to give the new Hull manager a winning start in the npower Championship.
Simpson left unlucky Brighton deflated by poaching the winner with five minutes remaining and just four minutes after coming on to replace Aaron McLean, wrapping a 1-0 victory at the KC Stadium.
"Jay's looked sharp in pre-season and I'm really pleased for him because it has not been easy for him here by all accounts," Bruce said. "I've not closed the door on anybody and he was arguably a bit unlucky not to start. Jay's got off and running, so good on him."
Simpson was loaned out to Millwall last season as he struggled to secure a place in the Hull side, but Bruce insisted the 23-year-old will be given a chance to impress this season.
Hull were second best for long spells of the game, but Bruce called for patience as his new-look side attempts to gel.
"It was a typical first game of the season, and we know we'll have to improve," he added. "Brighton had some good chances, but we did too. It was always going to be open and we were a bit adventurous."
Bruce also backed new German striker Nick Proschwitz to come good after a frustrating afternoon up front.
"Nick's going to take time," Bruce said. "At the moment he is carrying that burden of having a ?2 million-plus price tag."
Brighton boss Gus Poyet refused to be downhearted after his side's late defeat.
"I'm very positive. The players are down, but I've told them not to worry. I will have chances to be mad with them this season, but today is not the day to do that," he said. "The kind of performance we produced and the way we played was of a very good level."