Hull City 2
Altidore (30), Boateng (54)
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 06 February 2010 17:08
- Posted by Chris Bailey
Five games in fifteen days, ending with a visit from Liverpool, which will inevitably shape the way the season will pan out, could hardly have started any more inauspiciously.
In the perfect scenario the Blues were predicted to end that manic run of matches snuggled down in the top four of the Premier League and handily placed in the last eight of the FA Cup.
To do so now, however, City will have to play much, much better than they did at the KC Stadium where Hull’s hunger to avoid relegation proved a powerful enough driving force to even out any skill imbalance.
The home side were far and away the better team in the first forty-five minutes. Both Blues central defenders were booked attempting to stem the Tigers’ tide before Hull deservedly took the lead on the half hour mark thanks to a crisp, low effort from Jozy Altidore that crept inside the far post.
Even that failed to rouse Roberto Mancini’s men who didn’t have a shot on target until first half stoppage time when some delightful football saw Wayne Bridge fire venomously at the near post when Boaz Myhill beat it away.
The returning defender may have been better off rolling the ball across the six yard line though he may have noticed both strikers, Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor, were absent without leave.
The second half began with attacking possession spread much more evenly though it was the home side that struck first thanks to a thunderbolt from 20-yards from George Boateng. He cannot have struck a sweeter shot in his career.
Mancini had seen enough and off came Stephen Ireland to hand Adam Johnson a debut and a Blues lifeline soon followed.
When City’s reply came five minutes later it wasn’t a thing of beauty but counted for just the same. A scramble in the Hull box looked to be going nowhere in particular until Adebayor stretched out a telescopic leg and diverted the ball into the roof of the net.
Thereafter the Blues looked like a team on the verge of the top four. On came Vieira for his debut as Mancini hauled off Craig Bellamy and switched to 4-3-3 and Myhill was suddenly busy saving from Tevez and Johnson.
City were the better side in the closing quarter but couldn’t turn their advantage into anything tangible with Myhill saving well from Tevez a minute from time to preserve the lead.
Hull came into this contest buoyed by sharing the spoils in midweek with leaders Chelsea but still without a win in 10 league matches and ensconced in the bottom three albeit within touching distance of a handful of sides above them in what promises to be a ferocious and crowded dog-fight to avoid the end of season trap door. They fought like their nickname throughout and when nerves set in the Blues were not able to take advantage.
City on the other hand bustled into the easterly outpost with the kind of swagger that comes with being one of the form sides in the competition with five wins in the last six league matches and four of those under Roberto Mancini.
The Italian, who before the game confessed to mcfc.co.uk that he revels in his ‘Bobby Manc’ nickname cannot however been happy with a deal of what he saw though at least Bridge was back in harness at left back for the first time since he injured his knee in City’s win over Chelsea a dozen games ago and there was valuable game time for Vieira and Johnson. They are likely to feature again against Bolton in midweek.