Character key in order for Hull City to get back in the race '“ Curtis Davies

CURTIS DAVIES has called on Hull City to sharpen up and be more ruthless in the final third after suffering their third goalscoring blank in four Championship matches in Thursday's 1-0 loss at Birmingham City.

Hull City's Curtis Davies, left, battles against Birmingham City's Clayton Donaldson during Thursday night's 1-0 defeat at St Andrews. Picture: PA.

A sentimental first return to St Andrew’s proved an irksome one and anything but for the 30-year-old, who unwittingly deflected Jon Toral’s 14th-minute shot past the stranded Allan McGregor for the game’s only goal.

The Tigers had countless chances to level and even go on to win the game with a combination of the woodwork, sturdy goalkeeping from Tomasz Kuszczak and poor finishing telling the tale of the tape on a night when Steve Bruce’s men could have moved two points clear at the summit.

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Instead, Hull must watch on before their return to league business at home to MK Dons next Saturday – and see what ground they have to make up with most of their automatic rivals having two matches before they are back on Championship duty.

Davies also felt that sense of powerless at his old stomping ground on Thursday, viewing events unfold as his team-mates missed a stack of chances on the night.

And while Hull’s vital defensive statistics were rightly acclaimed this week, with the East Yorkshire outfit going into the Blues game with the joint best defensive record in the division – having conceded one goal in 12 hours – some other numbers are now starting to not stack up so impressively.

All told, Hull have scored once in their past four matches and also have not found the net in on the road in the first half of a Championship away game in 11 attempts since October 31 – numbers that those of an amber and black persuasion would rather not dwell upon in comparison.

On the pressing need for a cutting edge to be discovered at a telling juncture, Davies said: “We have done well defensively lately and Blues didn’t really look like scoring too much after that goal.

“But ultimately it is the one goal that got Birmingham the win and we need to start taking our chances to have a chance of winning games.

“I am a defender and it’s easy for me to say, but we have been keeping quite a lot of clean sheets lately and we need to start scoring goals to win games.

“We have got to put chances away, that’s it. Someone told me we had 21 attempts and to have that many in this league, you usually have one that goes in.

“Unless you are shooting from thirty yards every time. But that wasn’t the case.

“We need to sharpen or be a bit more ruthless. Some of the things are falling around the box and we are just not putting them away. We are half-heartedly going for it and it’s not really happening.

“It’s frustrating, but we need to go again and make sure we are ready for Arsenal first and then it’s a big game against MK Dons.”

On the night, Blues’ game plan worked to perfection with Gary Rowett’s side showing prowess at both ends of the pitch – being rewarded with a goal following some vibrant attacking first-half play before their defensive resilience came to the fore on the restart as they dug in and protected their precious gains.

It was an object lesson for Hull, particularly ahead of big away dates coming up at Boro and Derby – and while the visitors certainly deserved someone of the balance of play, Davies was loathe to begrudge Blues of their rewards, with their game plan working well on the night.

He added: “It is frustrating when teams sit back against us. But once Blues got the early goal, the impetus was on us to go and win it and get back in the game.

“Fair play to them, they held out the whole game and did it quite well towards the end and it’s something we have to work on.”

All the best teams bounce back, which is what Hull are now assigned with doing, with Davies believing that a showcasing of their character – an ingredient that every successful promotion aspirant needs to display in abundance in the run-in – must now come to the fore.

“The teams at the top were given a favour by Blackburn beating Middlesbrough, which a lot of people wouldn’t have expected and we have now blown the chance and it was a good chance”, the centre-half added.

“We were back on even games and even points and us having a slightly better goal difference and it was a good chance to go out and put down a marker.

“But we didn’t do it and now it’s about showing the character to bounce back.”