SOMETIMES it is necessary to take a step back in order to make progress going forward.
This was certainly the case for Hull City as they reverted to a tried and trusted 3-5-2 formation and registered only their second Premier League victory since reaching the FA Cup final last season.
It was an important win for not only did it lift them to eighth ahead of yesterday’s games but eased pressure going into the international break.
After it, of course, Hull head to Arsenal and then to Liverpool before returning to the KC against Southampton next month.
Perhaps the lack of forthcoming action on home soil was a reason behind the crowd of 24,281, 1,422 more than the attendance for the previous week’s encounter against champions Manchester City – or it could have been because prices were £16 compared to £50.
Manager Steve Bruce admitted: “It’s always nice to be able to revert back to something. I just felt as if, with the two full-backs we’ve got, who like to get forward, that maybe we’re a bit too open.
“I have to say, though, we’ve made individual errors (in previous games) and it doesn’t matter what formation you play if you make individual errors That’s what we had to make sure wasn’t happening.
“I had to warn them, ‘If you make errors, you’re not going to play’. You can’t at this level because you get punished.
“Of the 11 goals we’ve conceded, five of them at least have been from individual errors, which is a frustration.”
Bruce is adamant that Hull will need 10 wins again to ensure Premier League survival but added: “We’ve got two now and it’s October. It seems easy, one a month, but it ain’t when you’ve got bloody Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton coming up. Then Tottenham after that. It’s very difficult.
“The most important thing for me is that you beat the teams who you think are going to be in and around you.
“No disrespect to Palace or QPR, but both are going to be in and around us. That’s what we did last season, we managed to win the big important games and this was a big one.
“It was important to get a win going into Liverpool and Arsenal. We’re not defeatist saying we’re going to go and surrender, but they are both going to be very tough games so we’d rather get the points on the board before those games to have something behind us.
“The clean sheet is massive. We’re delighted with it. It is important because this place was our fortress last season and this time we hadn’t managed to keep one here until now.”
Victory came courtesy of two second-half goals after Hull had been unable to capitalise on an early blow for Palace when central defender Scott Dann blocked a shot from Tom Huddlestone and twisted a knee in the process, the pain being so intense he was initially treated for concussion.
Adrian Mariappa came on at right-back with Martin Kelly moving across but Palace refused to be unsettled despite the marauding runs of wing-back Ahmed Elmohamady, who soldiered on with a bandaged arm after taking a blow from Joel Ward.
Hull increased the pressure close to the break but front two Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez spurned chances, leaving it to Mo Diame to head the Tigers into a 60th-minute lead after a shot from the latter had been blocked out to Hull’s other wing-back, Andy Robertson, who floated over a perfect cross.
Stephen Harper, in for shoulder victim Allan McGregor, then defied his years with a flying save to divert a thunderous shot from Yannick Bolasie from what proved Palace’s only threat of an equaliser before substitute Liam Rosenior cleared off the line in stoppage time from a header from former Tigers defender Damien Delaney.
By then it was 2-0, Jake Livermore sending Jelavic down the middle to end a frustrating performance with a superb finish as he first turned Kelly before stubbing the ball with the outside of his foot past Julian Speroni from just inside the area.
Captain Curtis Davies, one of three central defenders alongside the recalled James Chester and Michael Dawson, recognised the importance of the victory but looked ahead with relish to the two games after the break.
“We’re going to play two top teams who are in the Champions League,” he said. “We need to be wary but we play them in between the Champions League so we’re going into one (Arsenal) where they might be worrying about their games and the next one (Liverpool) where they might be tired.
“I’m just hoping whatever happens is in our favour because you need to be on your game or better to take something from those games.
“I always look at those games as a bonus, but you go in wanting something from them.
“As much as we’ll have a positive attitude I’m not sure we’ll go and play the same way we did against Palace. We’ll be solid and hope to nick one at the other end.”