Grant McCann proud of Hull City's character, energy and intensity despite FA Cup third round defeat to Everton

Grant McCann told his Hull City players they should be proud of the character, energy and intensity they showed in going toe-to-toe with Premier League Everton for 120 minutes.

The Tigers played an equal part in an outstanding FA Cup tie, only beaten by a wonderful striker from Andros Townsend in extra-time.

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Grant McCann and Hull City show Acun Ilicali there is plenty to work with, even ...

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Hull led through Tyler Smith's 43rd-second header, his first goal for the club, and were comfortably the better team until Demarai Gray's 21st-minute equaliser but between that and Andre Gomes's 32nd-minute header, Everton threatened to run away with the game but Hull hung in there and found an equaliser when the three substitutes McCann had brought on at that stage combined for Ryan Longman's wonderful finish.

AGGRESSION: Grant McCann was delighted with how Hull City fought against higher-ranked opposition

With Keane Lewis-Potter hitting the post at 2-2, the game went into an extra 30 minutes before the Toffees came out on top but although Hull were beaten, they were anything but disgraced.

"We pushed right to the end and I thought we were going to get the equaliser in extra-time, it was a tremendous save (by Asmir Begovic from Tom Eaves)," reflected McCann.

"I said to them in the changing room they should be proud of themselves for matching Everton.

"I went into this game saying we had to match their intensity, their energy, their aggression.

"It was nice to score so early in the game and for Tyler to score his first goal for the club because he's deserved that after the chances he's had when they've played.

"We had to come back when they made it 2-1 and they showed their quality with Townsend's goal.

"For the first 15, 20 minutes I thought we were really strong. Tom had a really good header tipped over the crossbar and I thought that would have helped us if it had gone in.

"Everton grew into the game as it went on.

"We settled the boys down at half-time and told them to be calm and we could get the goal. There was no need to get it in the first five or 10 minutes. We got it and the performance levels of the lads to go toe-to-toe with Everton were excellent.

"The character's top class, I've said before. They're an unbelievable group of players."

With Acun Ilicali, who has been in a period of exclusivity since late October as he looks to buy the club, thoughts were naturally turning to the future as Hull look to avoid relegation from the Championship.

Ominously for McCann, he has not met with the Turkish television mogul, and is unaware of any plans for that to change. More encouragingly, though, he is working on transfers and believes he is close to a breakthrough.

But he would be well advised to stick by a coach who despite not being overly popular on the terraces, is starting to get the best out of a side who made a slow start to the season in terms of results.

"Us (coaching) staff don't get involved in anything like that," he insisted. "My focus is only on the football.

"I've honestly got no idea (if confirmation of the takeover is close).

"As for what it means for me, I've no idea. That's probably for other people to talk about.

"We'll look at this game over the weekend and take the positives out of it. I think our performance levels over the last 10 games have improved.

"I think that's down to confidence and us growing as a group and a team, adapting to the Championship and taking our chances when they come - all of that rolled into one."