Hull City 2 Bristol City 2: Late stunner denies Tigers victory
Unfortunately, the Sky Blues are now out of their own in that regard.
That Grant McCann’s side failed to see out the game and secure another precious victory after George Honeyman put them in front 11 minutes from time represented a bitter pill.
After the drama of Honeyman’s intervention, there was a further twist when former Barnsley loanee Matty James fired home a snapshot in the first minute of stoppage time to draw Bristol City level for the second time.
On the balance of play and given their much-improved second half, it was probably a point that they merited.
Disappointment for Hull, for sure and it will hurt for a few hours on Saturday. But given where they were in mid-autumn, the extension of their unbeaten sequence to six games should provide a touch of comfort with the Tigers in a much better place than they were not so long back.
On the day, the Championship’s form horses were not quite at their best, despite their early verve and had to tap into their reservoirs of character in a second half when they were second best.
Honeyman was in the right place to tuck away the rebound after visiting keeper Daniel Bentley kept out Keane Lewis-Potter’s shot.
It was a moment shared by the Hull faithful, who willed on the hosts in a testing second period which saw Antoine Semenyo cancel out an eye-catching early opener.
Unfortunately it was James who had the final say.
In truth, it was a curious game and a point was probably the right result at the end.
Heading into the game on the back of an excellent run of form, City soon showed why they are in such good order early on with a picture-book opening goal from a player who has come to the party of late in Ryan Longman, who struck for the second successive home game.
The Brighton loanee, who had shown his wares in the opening salvos when his fine cross was almost converted by Greg Docherty, went solo with a lovely precision curler after cutting in from the left with Bentley unable to keep out his effort.
It represented the perfect start for Hull, who displayed confidence befitting their recent form with a slick and polished opening quarter of the game.
The visitors’ susceptibility at the back should have also further emboldened them.
The Robins, after a ropey start, did creep back into proceedings, but the Tigers were decisive in their decision-making at the back, none moreso than Sean McLoughlin.
Playing in the middle of a back three, the central defender made a couple of timely interventions as the Robins threatened, while Di’Shon Bernard got in the way of a goalbound hooked volley from ex-Hull loanee Chris Martin.
Longman hinted at a second when he again cut inside and saw his curler land on the roof of the net, with Malik Wilks then spurning an excellent chance to double Hull’s advantage eight minutes before the break.
Dochery’s routine cross was fumbled by Bentley, with the loose ball falling to Wilks, but the Robins captain redeemed himself to make a last-ditch block.
It was an orderly and controlled half from Hull, who looked a team in the truest sense of the word across the pitch and were probably mindful that a second goal would probably finish the contest on the restart.
The first chance fell to the visitors, playing in front of their small, but voiceforus band of supporters, with Di’Shon Bernard just about doing enough to put off Andreas Weimann, who fired wide under pressure.
It was a warning that was not heeded with Hull switching off momentarily from a corner on the left from James soon after and getting punished.
Semenyo was left unmarked and after his initial shot shuddered the post, he buried the rebound from close range to put the Robins on terms.
After having it much of their own way recently, it represented a character examination for Hull, but they lacked the conviction of their offerings for much of the first half as the Robins grew in terms of their own confidence.
The Tigers’ response was disappointing and sloppy as the visitors seized the initiative, with the growing frustration of the home support being indicative of that.
Sensing the signs, Grant McCann threw on Tom Eaves and Tyler Smith for Josh Magennis and Malik Wilks in a bid to spark his Hull side into life and it worked.
After the encouragement of the first period, this was all about digging deep for Hull, who had to show their battling qualities against an increasingly lively Bristol side.
They persevered and were rewarded in a timely fashion.
Soon after Smith glanced a header wide, Hull struck more decisively, with Eaves’ inviting cutback on the right finding Keane Lewis-Potter, whose first-time shot was parried superbly by Bentley, only for the lurking Honeyman to tuck away the rebound.
Unfortunately, there was more to come, courtesy of James.
Hull City: Baxter; Bernard, McLoughlin, Greaves; Longman (R Williams 82), Smallwood, Docherty, Lewis-Potter; Honeyman; Wilks (T Smith 69), Magennis (Eaves 69). Substitutes unused: Ingram, Elder, Cannon, Huddlestone.
Bristol City: Bentley; Vyner, Kalas, Atkinson (Benarous 82); Scott (Tanner 31), Massengo, James, O'Dowda; Weimann; Martin (Wells 64), Semenyo. Substitutes unused: O'Leary, Dasilva, Bakinson, Pring.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey).