ALEX BRUCE was left to rue what might have been for himself and Hull City – labelling the moment when he came close to making it 3-0 as the final’s big turning point.
Pre-match plans to target set-pieces and expose Arsenal’s zonal marking system worked a treat in a breakneck opening, with only a saving goalline clearance from Kieran Gibbs just before the quarter-of-an-hour mark stopping Bruce adding to goals from fellow defenders James Chester and captain Curtis Davies.
A few minutes later and the Gunners were back in it through Santi Cazorla’s free-kick, the catalyst that ended in Aaron Ramsey’s extra-time winner.
Bruce, who like his father Steve succumbed to injury in a final; the Tigers boss came off for Manchester United against Everton in 1995, said: “Maybe my header was the key moment. Then again, if you had told us before hand that we would go 2-0 up early on, it should have been a big enough cushion.
“Some might say we went 2-0 up too soon. Once we did, we sat off them. There were some tired legs, especially in the second half and then extra-time came.
“It was unfortunate we sat off and let Arsenal come back into it. That extra quality they had cost us. When they can bring on Rosicky and Wilshere when we had such tired legs, that makes all the difference.”
On picking up a losing medal as opposed to a winner’s one, which his dad enjoyed in 1990 and 1994, he added: “In a few years’ time I’ll probably look back on this as a great day and cherish the medal, even though it’s a losing one. It’s no substitute for a winner’s one, but it won’t be at the back of my sock drawer. I haven’t got a lot of medals to my name.”
And on the consolation of Europe, he added: “Playing in Europe will be massive for the club. It will help attract better players. We’ve definitely put Hull on the map.
“I think we’ve made ourselves an attractive club for players to come to. Hopefully, that bodes well for the future.
“Why not challenge for the top 10 next season? We’ve got to look at Southampton and what they’ve done. You’ve got to set targets and that’s what we’ll be doing.
“I’m sure my old man will want to bing in that bit of quality we need, although hopefully no more centre-halves!”