Following our FA Cup triumph over Aston Villa, it was key that our boys carried that momentum into this game against Hull. A good performance was going to be needed to stop the in-form Bowen and talented Grosicki but after a promising debut against Villa at the Cottage, it was former Hull player Michael Hector that gave us hope.
I was quite surprised with the team selection with Johansen being benched as for me he has been one of our players of the season so far behind Mitro. This, however, did allow for one of the strongest benches the Championship has ever seen. Bryan being dropped also raised questions about his future with Watford allegedly interested, similarly to Betts who was removed from the squad completely.
Going into the game I was quite pessimistic about us getting even a point from this game with a fear that Bowen was going to rip us to shreds. Added to the fact that we had never won at the KCOM Stadium, I was prepared for a bumpy ride but to my surprise, I didn’t need to be worried.
The game started with both sides struggling to keep possession of the ball and control the game which wasn’t helped by the very windy conditions. It was immediately clear that Hull had a game plan to not allow our front men any time or space with the ball in the final third which prevented any fluidity to our play. Hector’s distribution was also questionable with a lot of attempted long balls falling to Hull City players.
With the game being very low in quality it had to be a moment of magic that gave us the lead in the twenty-eighth minute. Following Knockaert being tackled in the box, Cavaleiro scored what must now be known as his signature goal with a curling effort into the opposite corner. Having signed permanently just days before he couldn’t have capped off his deal in a better way.
At half time we looked comfortable with our lead despite never really getting into our rhythm, but a Hull response was inevitable. There was also a hope that the referee Mr Donohue would actually give a decision our way but unfortunately, his decision making which was always influenced by the Hull players getting in his face would only get worse.
The second half unsurprisingly started with Hull having more of the ball but they still struggled to create anything and we still looked fairly comfortable. It looked like we were going to record our first-ever win at this stadium and I was in a buoyant mood until the seventy-sixth minute when Mitro went down. It became clear very quickly that he was in trouble, so much so that even when he was preparing to come back on, I wasn’t sure he could continue. Sure enough, he had to be stretchered off four minutes later which is a big worry for the rest of our season as we push for promotion.
Despite being a goal behind it took Hull until the ninety-third minute to have their best chances of the game as Bowen forced Rodak into a top save before substitute Mawson blocked the rebound off the line from Eaves. In the last-minute panic, Hull did manage to scramble in an equaliser but it was ruled out for a clear offside and we had our first-ever win at the KCOM.
I think that Parker deserves some plaudits following that result as he finally showed signs that he knows what to do to grind out a result while under the cosh. Odoi and Christie did very well to keep Bowen and Grosicki quiet on either wing and a clean sheet on his league debut will do Hector’s confidence the world of good. The only worry is the injury to Mitro looks rather serious so I think we will need to replace him in this window as, despite Kamara improving of late, I don’t think he has the consistency to replace him. I think either Glenn Murray, Andre Gray or Billy Sharp on loan for the season would be the best likely replacements as they have experience at this level, are out of favour at their current clubs and have proven goal scoring records in this league. That’s my biggest concern with Mitro injured, we have several players who could do a job up top but nobody has suggested they could replace the goals Mitro provides. We need a natural goalscorer in to cover his absence if he is to be injured for a while.
To summarise, despite the game being poor it is a great result and hopefully, we can push on to beat Middlesbrough on Friday.