A SIXTH straight Championship clean sheet and the equalling of a notable club record for Hull City but not the return to the play-off places they coveted.
That just about summed up last night’s events at the KC Stadium as, for a second time this season, the Tigers and Brighton & Hove Albion fought out an entertaining goalless draw.
In what was a carbon copy of October’s meeting on the south coast, Hull were the better side and fashioned the more clear-cut chances.
However, just as was the case at the Amex when Nigel Pearson was still in charge, the Tigers were unable to apply the finishing touch and thus missed out on a return to the top six.
The major plus from an ultimately frustrating evening was the equalling of a 104-year club record run for consecutive clean sheets, underlining once again just how hard manager Nick Barmby’s side are to break down.
Derby County’s Theo Robinson remains the last Championship player to breach the Tigers’ back-line, a mammoth nine hours and 44 minutes playing time ago.
It is an impressive record, though what is also worth noting is that during that time Hull have scored just five goals – and three of those were against a truly woeful Bristol City side earlier this month.
Clearly, an improvement in that scoring ratio will be needed if Hull are to force their way back into the top six before the end of the season.
Asking two sides renowned for their passing style to shine on this kind of surface was akin to expecting a Derby winner to show his class on Blackpool beach.
But, credit to both sets of players, they tried their best despite the ball rarely running smoothly and but for some determined defending Cameron Stewart could have had a first-half hat-trick.
First, the former Manchester United winger latched on to a cross by Matty Fryatt before drilling a low shot that Liam Bridcutt cleared off the line, the ball having beaten goalkeeper Peter Brezovan.
Stewart’s second sight of goal came six minutes before the break, the jet-heeled youngster being played clear of the Brighton defence by a delightful pass.
As the badly exposed Brezovan raced from his line, a goal seemed certain only for Stewart to dither and allow the Seagulls’ goalkeeper to pull off a brave block.
Stewart looked crestfallen, just as he did a couple of minutes later when deft footwork by the winger created sufficient space to thunder a shot that clipped the top of the crossbar.
With Fryatt also bringing two fine saves from Brezovan, there was little doubt come half-time which had been the better of the two sides.
Brighton had, though, created chances of their own with Vito Mannone having to be alert to keep out Craig Mackail-Smith’s drive after Giles Barnes had dispossessed James Chester.
The loanee from Arsenal also kept out Bridcutt at the second attempt, while Barnes shot over after being forced wide but, even so, there could be little doubt as the players left the field to a tremendous reception, Hull had been the better side in the opening 45 minutes.
It was a similar story after the break, too, with Brezovan being called into action within a minute of the restart by Fryatt’s fierce drive.
Hull’s top scorer continued to threaten as the half wore on and he twice brought a decent save from Brezovan before Stewart was presented with an excellent chance to make amends for his earlier misses.
However, after the ball had fallen to the Hull wideman just eight yards out, he could only poke the ball wide as Brezovan scrambled across his line.
James Chester was the next to go close when picked out by Robert Koren only to misjudge the flight of the cross.
As a result, the Seagulls were able to hack the ball to the right flank where Aaron Mclean retrieved before drilling a low cross that Gordon Greer did well to put behind for a corner.
The sense of deja-vu from the first fixture between these two sides was then reinforced 13 minutes from time when Mclean missed a golden chance to seal all three points to go with the opportunity he had spurned back in October.
A drilled cross from Koren was the catalyst, Mclean receiving the ball six yards out but, as the 17,769 crowd waited for the net to bulge, the substitute’s shot flew over.
Fryatt also had a shot blocked by Brezovan, who then held on to an acrobatic attempt by Mclean to ensure honours ended even between these teams for a second time this season.
Hull City: Mannone; Rosenior, Hobbs, Chester, Dawson; Brady (Mclean 63), McKenna, Koren, Evans (Cairney 68), Stewart; Fryatt. Unused substitutes: Gulacsi, Dudgeon, King.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Brezovan; Reyes, Greer, El-Habd, Mattock; Barnes, Bridcutt, Navarro, Razak (Assulin 77), LuaLua (Buckley 67); Mackail-Smith.Unused substitutes: Ankergren, Calderon, Vokes.
Referee: C Berry (Surrey).