Blackburn Rovers 2 Hull City 0: Tigers' goal drought extends to nine hours after Roses loss

GRANT McCANN has never been one to shirk a battle.

Keane-Lewis Potter on the attack for Hull City at Blackburn Rovers. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

The Hull City head coach famously showed a defiant side when the Tigers were doing it tough amid all manner of strife in the spring of 2020. “I’m from Sandy Row in Belfast. I do not hide”, he belligerently once said.

Proving himself has gone with the territory for much of his football career and it's perhaps a good job that McCann - who confessed to possessing a fiery temper in his early days - does not mind a scrap as Hull are currently doing it tough.

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Off the pitch, there is also renewed speculation about the future of the club, with reports in Turkey suggesting that businessman Acun Ilıcalı has confirmed his interest in buying the Tigers.

On it, McCann has enough to worry about and luck is not currently befriending him.

The dissenters got on his case after Saturday’s stalemate at Swansea City, which extended Hull’s goal drought to seven-and-a-half hours, with the riled Tigers chief sticking up for his players when questioned about his side’s recent inability to find the net.

That wait for a goal is now up to nine hours as the club failed to score for a sixth consecutive winless league match. For context, David Lloyd George was Prime Minister on the last occasion that happened in December 1920, just over a century ago.

Speaking of statistics, you now have to go back six matches to the last time that Hull scored against Rovers, who claimed their fifth successive win over the East Yorkshireman to confirm their growing status as a bogey side.

Just like on Hull's last visit to this part of Lancashire, the damage was done in the final half hour, with quick-fire goals arriving from Daniel Ayala and Ben Brereton-Diaz inside four minutes.

But in truth, it was a key double-change from Rovers chief Tony Mowbray which proved instrumental.

With the game in danger of listing for Rovers, shortly after Josh Magennis saw a goal ruled out for offside, Mowbray threw on substitutes Reda Khadra and Dan Butterworth and it changed the narrative of the night.

Hull, to their credit, kept pushing to the end. For context, they produced five efforts on target when it took until the 94th minute of the game at Swansea for the first one to be registered. But there is only one figure that truly matters.

The highlighted issue ahead of the game for City may have been goals, but the reverse applied for Rovers, who had scored in every game this season yet were without a clean sheet in 16 league matches.

The hosts defended their box well enough, but the sight of Rovers regularly coughing up possession as the half wore on provided reasons to enthuse Hull, who shrugged off a rusty start to have the better of the first period between both boxes.

Unfortunately, that little bit of quality and incision in the final third that has eluded them off late came to the fore again.

First-half shots on target arrived from Magennis and Mallik Wilks, but they were fielded comfortably enough by Thomas Kaminski.

The intent to try and make things happen and the work rate did not showcase a side feeling sorry for themselves at least, with Hull having the better of it in a midfield which included Richie Smallwood handed the captain’s armband on his return to the side against former employers.

While the half remained goalless, the pragmatist in McCann might have just taken that in a second successive away game.

A few boos greeted home players at half-time, with the main moments of sorcery from Rovers arriving at the feet of Tyrhys Dolan.

A weaving early run and curling shot which flew narrowly over was his first offering and a carbon-copy in the run-up to the interval when he was again allowed licence to cut inside from the left almost yielded a breakthrough, with Ingram making a smart one-handed tip-over.

The movement of Dolan, Brereton-Diaz and John Buckley hinted at initial problems for Hull, but their backline soon recomposed themselves.

It was a different story in the second half after Rovers' double-change shortly after Magennis fired home from Callum Elder's cross, only for the linesman's flag to cut short any celebrations.

Ingram was called into action to block an effort from Khadra and a blockbuster from Butterworth, with Dolan putting the rebound wide, but the reprieve was short-lived.

Ayala got above Di'Shon Bernard to convert with a towering header from Joe Rothwell's corner and soon after Lewis Travis fed Brereton-Diaz, whose bending shot flew past Ingram.

Rovers had chances for more, while Hull had opportunities for a consolation, but little is coming off for them.

Ten miles away, Hull's season started off with a summer party at Preston. Autumn has now set in just down the road.

Blackburn Rovers: Kaminski; Nyambe, Lenihan, Ayala, Pickering; Travis, Clarkson (Butterworth 54), Rothwell; Buckley (Khadra 54), Brereton-Diaz, Dolan (Davenport 89). Substitutes unused: Pears, Carter, McBride, Magloire.

Hull City: Ingram; Coyle, Bernard, Greaves, Elder; M Smith (Moncur 67), Smallwood, Docherty; Wilks (T Smith 77), Magennis (Longman 68), Lewis-Potter. Substitutes unused: Baxter, Emmanuel, Cannon, McLoughlin.

Referee: J Brooks (Leicestershire).