GOALKEEPER David Stockdale is in no doubt that he has made the right move ‘back up north’ in spite of tasting defeat in his first match for almost 10 months.
All the 27-year-old had to celebrate on Saturday was home-town club Leeds United’s victory over previous leaders Crystal Palace and the draw at Charlton secured by Huddersfield Town, the club with whom he began his career as a youngster.
But he is delighted to have made the loan move to Hull City and is confident that they have the quality to bounce back from a third home defeat of the season when they entertain Palace tomorrow night.
Stockdale has been assured that he is the man to eventually fill the gloves of Mark Schwarzer at Fulham, but, in the meantime, he is determined to help Hull in their quest for a return to the Premier League.
It was a pity, therefore, that the Tigers should produce their poorest first-half display of the campaign against a Burnley side to whom they have now suffered seven successive defeats.
Passess continually went astray and Burnley dominated, prompting Tigers chief Steve Bruce to have a total re-think at half-time, abandoning his wing-back formation and switching to a 4-4-2 system.
It helped put them on the front foot only for his attack-minded players to produce the kind of shooting displays one normally associates with teams struggling at the bottom rather than those in the top six.
Stockdale admitted: “We’ve learned that we can’t play bad in the first half and okay in the second and expect to get something out of a game.
“As a defensive unit, a couple of lapses in concentration cost us the goal. It’s how we fight back that counts but we didn’t react like we should have done.
“We came out in the second half and made a game of it. I’m not saying we deserved three points because I don’t think we did. But if you look at the chances we created in the second half we could have got a point which may have been a bit harsh on Burnley, but you have to scrape a point here and there even when you are not playing well.”
The goal that sunk them in the 40th minute came from former Tigers midfield man Dean Marney, who got a poor reception despite having helped the club into the Premier League in 2008.
It was no wonder he celebrated in front of the Hull fans after drilling the ball past Stockdale after Charlie Austin’s diagonal ball had allowed Ross Wallace to set up the shooting opportunity down the right-hand channel.
By then, Stockdale had already made three decent saves, though he added: “I felt a bit rusty in the first 10 minutes especially when the first shot had a little swerve on it and hit me in the chest. I thought ‘no, it’s going to be one of them days’ but as soon it happened I thought ‘let’s get back in the game’. Wallace’s shot also swerved a little bit (he pushed it onto a post, flying to his left) but I didn’t have a save to make in the second half and that shows that we were on top.”
Of his transfer deadline-day switch and fifth loan move, Stockdale said: “It’s been nearly a year since I last played and it is frustrating, but you can see why I’m not getting a game and I said ‘yes’ straightaway at being able to come to a club like this, a manager like this and a team like this.
“I was born in LGI (Leeds General Infirmary) so it was nice to come up north and if someone says ‘Hull City are in for you’, you know who Hull City are and that’s no disrespect to other teams because Hull have done well in recent years and with a manager like Steve Bruce it shows where the club wants to go.
“It’s very difficult staying sharp, but I have some very good people around me at Fulham, Hans Segers and Martin Brennan, two goalkeeping coaches who, if one’s working with Mark Schwarzer, the other will take me away just in case because you never know what might happen in the Premier League. You don’t want to go into a game looking a little bit sloppy so I was nearly match-sharp.
“We have some great players here, young players. It’s good to come into a club lower down than Fulham and feel like they are playing football like a Premier League club. That’s exactly what the manager is trying to do so I’m happy I am here.
“It’s a terrific opportunity for me because I have been struggling to get games in the Premier League because we have been doing so well at Fulham, who are wanting me to stay and hopefully take his gloves when he has finished. If I do well here, you never know what could happen in the future.”
Match-winner Marney is hoping he can pull off a promotion double with Burnley.
The 28-year-old, who moved to the Clarets after Hull’s relegation from the top flight, said: “It was a really enjoyable time at Hull. I had a great time, with getting promoted, but I’m not too worried about them any more. I’m on a new journey now with Burnley and hopefully we can do the same.
“I can see some similarities between our side and the Hull side I got promoted with. That Hull team had great team spirit and we really worked for each other. I think you saw a bit of that in the second half today. We ground it out and there were some big performances out there. But it’s just one win and we won’t get carried away.”
Victory took Burnley to within three points of the play-off spots, but the only down side for Marney was his fifth booking of the season which means he misses tomorrow’s trip to Barnsley.
Hull City: Stockdale, Chester, Faye, Bruce (Meyler 46); Elmohamady, Koren, Olofinjana (Brady 46), Quinn, Rosenoir (Proschwitz 69); Simpson, Aluko. Unused substitutes: Jakupovic, McKenna, Evans, Mclean.
Burnley: Grant, Edgar, Duff, Shackell, Mee; Stock (Vokes 76); Wallace (Ings 76), Marney, McCann, Paterson; Austin (Bartley 89). Unused substitutes: Jensen, Lafferty, Stanislas, O’Neill.
Referee: G Sutton (Lincs).