Xherdan Shaqiri rose to the occasion
Yet, until the introduction of Crouch, 36, and Walters, 33, it looked as if Hull were going to get something from this game.
Hull’s goal came from defender Harry Maguire, who celebrated as if it was a cup final winner.
His strike, in off the post from a short corner routine, cancelled out Marko Arnautovic’s sixth-minute belter for Stoke.
Had Oumar Niassi been able to cash in on a dreadful fluffed clearance from Erik Pieters, Hull would almost certainly have gone on to claim all three points.
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But Niassi’s lob from 30 yards out sailed high over the bar.
Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri put Stoke 2-1 up with a 25-yard shot that is a goal of the season contender.
Stoke boss Hughes said: “The icing on the cake was Shaqiri’s goal, it crowned a very good performance from him.”
The clincher came when Walters sent in the perfect cross and Crouch rose above Hull defender Andrea Ranocchia for his fifth goal since Christmas.
Peter Crouch made a big impact coming off the bench
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Hughes added: “You make the change and bring on Jonny Walters and Peter Crouch and you know what they bring.
“They affected the game exactly how I thought they would do. They came on and made an impact.”
Now Tigers boss Marco Silva is going to have to rely on his amazing record – his teams have not lost at home in more than three years – for Hull to stay in the top flight.
Silva said: “It was a big chance to take points for us but I prefer to analyse our game and performance than look at the league table.
“We need to improve and need to start games different, we need to make better decisions in our last pass and our finishing.”