Another blow for Hull City as Birmingham City strike late to deny Tigers a much-needed victory

If Hull City do end up getting relegated from the Championship this season, they will doubtless look back at Saturday's clash with Birmingham and wonder what might have been.

James Scott celebrates after heading Hull City into a 2-0 lead at Birmingham City. Picture: Getty Images

The Tigers came within minutes of recording a first league triumph in 13 attempts, only to concede an 88th-minute equaliser at St Andrew's in a game that they must believe they ought to have won.

Grant McCann's men led 2-0 at the break following an impressive first-half showing and then went on to demonstrate great character in reclaiming the initiative despite the Blues scoring twice to get back on terms by the hour-mark.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Herbie Kane capped a stand-out performance in the centre of the park with a cleverly-executed free-kick to put his side back ahead in the 68th minute, and City looked set to see the game out and claim a first three-point haul since New Year's Day.

It was not to be, however, and although a draw lifts Hull out of the drop zone, they will find themselves right back where they began the weekend if Huddersfield Town avoid defeat at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

A point on the road isn't ever a bad result in a division as competitive as the Championship, particularly for a team who have garnered just two from the last 36 on offer, but the way that the Tigers crumbled in the second half is indicative of a side who have real problems.

To score three times away from home and be leading with just two minutes of normal time remaining but still not come away with a victory must leave McCann's players if their long winless streak is ever going to end.

In fairness, they couldn't really have done much more in the first 45.

The contest was not even a minute old when Kane won possession in midfield and played Mallik Wilks in on goal, however the Barnsley loanee took too long in pulling the trigger and the chance was gone.

The resulting corner did however lead to City winning a free-kick on the right flank, from which Josh Magennis headed home Callum Elder's inviting, in-swinging delivery to break the deadlock.

Things got even better for the visitors on 16 minutes as they doubled their lead via an extremely well-worked move.

A deft touch around the corner in midfield by Magennis set Leo Da Slva Lopes away down the right where he showed great pace before picking out James Scott, whose perfectly-placed header beat Lee Camp.

At the other end, Lukas Jutkiewicz fluffed his lines inside the six-yard box as Birmingham briefly threatened a revival, but just as the hosts appeared to be building up a head of steam, Hull countered and created a glorious opening to make it 3-0.

Wilks went clean through for a second time but again wanted too much time and a superb last-ditch tackle by Kristian Pedersen saved the day for the Blues.

In stark contrast to the fashion in which they began the opening period, Hull were slow out of the blocks in the second.

Less than two minutes after the re-start, Gary Gardner was afforded too much space just outside the away box and was able to blast a low finish into the bottom corner to reduce the arreas.

Matt Pennington then had to make an important block inside his own area, before Jeremie Bela planted a header narrowly wide of the mark.

City failed to heed these warnings, however, and when Jude Bellingham was allowed to whip a cross in from the left, Dan Crowley levelled matters with a close-range headed finish.

Having surrendered a two-goal lead, a Tigers side that has appeared so devoid of confidence in the second half 2019/20 looked to be very much on the ropes.

Given the way things have been going for McCann's men, a third Birmingham goal seemed inevitable, yet, somewhat against the run of play, it was the visitors who struck next.

Wilks' final act before being replaced was to embark on a fine run, that took him to the edge of the home area, where he was cynically brought down.

From the resulting free-kick, Kane cleverly swept an effort underneath the Blues' wall and, with 68 minutes on the clock, the East Yorkshire outfit were back in the lead.

They managed to negotiate the 20 minutes that followed fairly comfortably, only to then switch off with the finish line in sight.

Gardner, already on a yellow card and perhaps lucky to escape further sanction following an off-the-ball clash with Elder just six minutes earlier, was inexplicably afforded time and space to nod home his second of the afternoon with the Hull defence almost stauesque.

Things could have got worse for City in stoppage-time when Bela cut in off the left and drilled the ball towards the near post, though Long saved with his legs to ensure that his team left with at least something to show for their efforts.

Birmingham City: Camp, Colin, Dean, Clarke-Slater (Gordon 87), Pedersen, Crowley, Kieftenbeld (Bela 46), Gardner, Bellingham, Hogan, Jutkiewicz. Substitutes not used: Trueman, Harding, Boyd-Munce, Burke, Concannon, Stirk, Reid.

Hull City: Long, Pennington, Burke, De Wijs, Elder, Lopes (Honeyman70), Batty, Kane (Stewart 77), Wilks (Bowler 67), Magennis (Eaves 67), Scott (Lewis-Potter 67). Substitutes not used: Ingram, Tafazolli, Toral, MacDonald,

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).