HULL’S upcoming year as the UK City of Culture is designed to showcase all that is good about the East Riding’s flagship port.
Last night, the city’s football club offered the nation a glimpse of why supporters refuse to give up on their side in the fight against relegation.
Unfortunately for the locals in a 20,111 crowd who braved a cold night, those watching on TV were also treated to the other side of Hull’s character as an unerring ability to make life unnecessary hard for themselves once again came to the fore.
Where in recent games this had manifested itself in wasteful finishing and individual defensive errors, David Marshall was this time the Tiger guilty of pressing the self-destruct button.
His howler in punching the ball into his own net during first-half stoppage-time ultimately cost Hull two points that would have given their survival battle a major fillip.
It also underlined why 2017, as well as being Hull’s year in the spotlight as a cultural destination, is likely to see the Tigers back in the Championship.
At a level where teams regularly punish even the slightest mistake, Hull cannot keep doing this to themselves and retain genuine hopes of getting out of trouble.
What perhaps made Marshall’s error all the more frustrating was that it came amid a tremendous team display from the Tigers, whose fighting spirit deserved more than just one point.
Jake Livermore epitomised the home side’s efforts with a truly outstanding shift in the centre of midfield. He, together with the industrious David Meyler, provided the platform for Robert Snodgrass to bring his customary attacking swagger to proceedings and it was no coincidence that the Scot scored one goal and helped create the other for Michael Dawson.
The duo now account for nine of Hull’s 16 league goals this term, underlining why a striker has to be the priority in the January window if there is to be any chance of Mike Phelan’s men upsetting the odds to get out of trouble.
Before last night, Everton and Liverpool had been beaten four times in eight visits. It was a record made all the more remarkable by Hull’s highest position in those four seasons having been 16th.
Hopes of a third victory over the Toffees were given a major boost in the sixth minute when, for only the fourth time all season, Hull scored the first goal.
Dawson provided the clinical finish at the back post after Curtis Davies had flicked Snodgrass’s corner into the Hull captain’s path.
Everton’s response was impressive as Seamus Coleman struck a post and Gareth Barry went agonisingly close with a drilled shot from 20 yards.
But, for all the impressive approach play from the visitors, Hull had held firm until stoppage-time at the end of the first half when an almighty blunder by Marshall literally handed Everton a way back into proceedings.
Marshall, who had earlier done well to keep out a deflected shot from Kevin Mirallas, came to try to punch a corner from the Belgian, but could only divert the ball into his own net.
John Lukic once did something similar in the Champions League against Rangers, the Leeds United goalkeeper claiming he had been dazzled by the Ibrox floodlights. Marshall, even allowing for the close proximity of Dieumerci Mbokani, had no such excuse, as his guilty expression betrayed when walking off at the interval moments later.
The £5m summer signing becoming the fifth goalkeeper in the Premier League to put through his own goal this season meant Ronald Koeman’s men came out after the restart in buoyant mood.
Romelu Lukaku became the second Evertonian to hit the woodwork, his deflected shot being helped on to the crossbar by a finger-tip save from Marshall.
Davies had to then block a second attempt from the striker before Ross Barkley fired in a shot that Marshall claimed at the second attempt. Hull’s turn to be denied by a post came just before the hour, Snodgrass unfortunate to see his free-kick crash against the upright with Joel Robles beaten.
Dawson then brought a fine block from Robles after springing the offside trap to collect a looping pass from Livermore.
On 65 minutes Snodgrass curled in yet another exquisite free-kick that was heading into the net from the moment it left his foot.
Once again, Everton’s response was strong as Davies had to react quickly to clear ahead of Lukaku before Marshall saved smartly from Coleman.
The visitors’ second equaliser of the night came five minutes from time, as Barkley headed in after Leighton Baines had been afforded far too much space on the left to cross.
Hull City: Marshall; Maguire, Dawson, Davies; Elmohamady, Livermore, Snodgrass, Meyler (Clucas 57), Robertson; Diomande (Huddlestone 84), Mbokani. Unused substitutes: Jakupovic, Maloney, Weir, Henriksen, Mason.
Everton: Robles; Coleman, Williams, Jagielka, Baines; Gueye, Barry (Davies 66), Mirallas (Funes Mori 87), Barkley, Valencia (Calvert-Lewin 74); Lukaku. Unused substitutes: Hewelt, Lennon, Cleverley, Holgate.
Referee: J Moss (West Yorkshire).