Hull City won away from home for only the second time this (calendar) year with a 2-0 victory at Cardiff.
The poor performance at Brighton on Saturday saw Steve Bruce make four changes to his starting line-up and revert to his beloved 3-5-2 formation. While the system clearly helped – it was also a much more industrious performance from an eleven who realised they have to fight for the right to win games away from the KC Stadium in the Championship.
|(C) Hull Daily Mail|
I watched the game at the KC Stadium as it was “beamed back”. The Football League’s fixture computer took another dump from a great height on the humble football supporter and so those of use with jobs and families have big decisions to make. Thanks to the ingenuity of the club, mine was easy. The beam-back was a good idea, the atmosphere was pleasant, Hull Pies excellent and the beer flowing. So well done to all at the club.
Allan McGregor (7) – A solid showing from the Scot who can’t afford many more errors in The Tigers’ goal and knows every decision will be magnified. He came when he could to catch or punch and relieved pressure at good times. His saves were routine but he made them.
Michael Dawson (8) – Another exemplary performance from our captain and leader. Cardiff unashamedly put the ball into the box from all angles at any opportunity to try and find Kenwyne Jones and after the big Trinidadian had some joy early on, he was soon wrapped up by Dawson and Davies. Daws also made two tremendous blocks – one stupidly brave – and directed traffic like a Nicky Mohan – only with footballing ability.
Alex Bruce (7) – Gave his usual unfussy performance. He played in the middle of the back three allowing Dawson and Davies to go challenge while he cleared up behind and stopped midfield runners getting beyond Jones. We’re often a better team with Bruce in it – especially when we play three at the back.
Curtis Davies (8) – Withstood their aerial bombardment brilliant making numerous important headers. Superb positioning in the second half saw the ball attracted to him time and again. He was strong and smart in the tackle and continued his excellent start to the season.
Moses Odubajo (7) – Chosen ahead of Ahmed Elmohamady at right wing back after Elmo was left out for a league game for the first time in his City career. He threatened early on with his pace but eventually became bogged down with defensive duties. He battled well against Whittingham and Fabio on their left and didn’t look troubled. That he was moved over to the left to combat Sammy Ameobi’s arrival as sub speaks volumes for Bruce’s faith in him.
Tom Huddlestone (6) – Another who had an unfussy game. He held his position well and made some timely interceptions but didn’t really step outside his comfort zone again. Once or twice he showed he has a quality of pass that few are blessed with but never in a particularly dangerous area. As a team we do keep possession much better when he plays and the midfield three suits him.
Mo Diame (8) – Apart from scoring the first goal and making the second with a quite sublime chipped pass – he had a quiet night! He wasn’t a force going forward too often but he did his share of the work in midfield out of possession and proved the difference between the two side. Uality over quantity.
Sam Clucas (8) – He had a decent game against Preston recently in central midfield and he was very good again tonight. He showed tremendous discipline in the position and was always between their midfield and our defence. If their midfielders get up for a wee in the middle of the night they’ll probably find Clucas blocking their path to the bathroom. He passed the ball well, carried it with threat and covered a lot of ground. He let himself down at times with an extra touch or a mis-step when he’d done the hard work and should really have killed the game off before Hernandez eventually did. He went clear on the goalkeeper and shot at him when he had time to go past him.
Andy Robertson (6) – Much more comfortable defensively as a wing-back than he’s looked recently as an orthodox left-back. He battled hard, challenged for the ball in the air and made some decent clearances. I was quite pleased to see him pick up a booking for standing up to Antony Pilkington during a spot of handbags. He didn’t take any nonsense. Was a tad lucky the ref was busy blowing for half time when he and Dikgacoi decided to kick out at each other right on the break.
Sone Aluko (7) – Struggled a little in the first half due to his nasty habit of trying to run through players but as the game became stretched later on he enjoyed picking up the ball and driving at them. His run made the first goal for Diame, he set up Clucas’ chance, he shot wide after a break from deep and he was involved in the second goal too. There’s a feeling that he could do more, and particularly score more, and I think that’s fair given his ability but he’s certainly looking more like his old self.
Abel Hernandez (6) – Despite his efforts, he didn’t get a lot of change out of the Cardiff back line but to his credit he kept working and trying to make an opening. His touch was a bit clumsy at times and he wasn’t enjoying a particularly fruitful evening until he showed his quality taking Diame’s pass out of the air on his chest and volleying home nonchalantly. He might not convince everyone but he’s got three goals in five league games. By anyone’s standards – that’s excellent.
Subs: Elmohamady (for Robertson), Akpom (for Hernandez), Meyler (for Aluko).
City have taken three points from two draining away trips against sides who were first and second, respectively, in the Championship at the start of each game. That now sets up two home games on the spin against QPR and Blackburn Rovers (with the League Cup visit of Swansea in the middle). Neither league game is easy but both are eminently winnable. Perhaps the manager has hit upon the right formula – one he perhaps may regret moving away from in the first place.