Hull City 2 Rotherham United 2: Tigers’ tilt at history thwarted by Millers fightback

An own goal from Robbie McKenzie gives Rotherham United an equaliser against Hull City after they had trailed 2-0 at KCOM Stadium (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
An own goal from Robbie McKenzie gives Rotherham United an equaliser against Hull City after they had trailed 2-0 at KCOM Stadium (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
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ON A DAY when football mourned the passing of World Cup winner Gordon Banks, Hull City were unable to stage a rewind to that feted year of 1966.

Opportunity knocked for a Tigers side who were scenting a sixth successive home triumph at second-tier level for the first time since the early part of the 1966-67 season.

Jarrod Bowen and team-mates celebrate his opening goal for'Hull City against Rotherham United (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

Jarrod Bowen and team-mates celebrate his opening goal for'Hull City against Rotherham United (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

A Hull victory looked inevitable following a first half in which they displayed confidence, aplomb and a hint of swagger – and sauntered into a 2-0 lead.

It ultimately proved misleading as the Tigers lost their way and their nerve on the restart in a polar opposite of events in the first period, leaving themselves open to a charge of complacency and overconfidence.

This said it would be disingenuous not to pay immense credit to manager Paul Warne’s character-laden Rotherham United, who produced their most inspired Championship away performance for some time.

Their run without three points on the road at this level stretched into a 41st game, but this will have felt like a victory.

Outclassed in a one-sided first half the Millers dusted themselves down and displayed a fighter’s heart to secure a richly-deserved point.

The fightback was started when substitute Anthony Forde cashed in on a David Marshall error to net his first goal of the season early in the second half.

Fellow replacement Jon Taylor played a big hand in the visitors’ second seven minutes later, his low shot deflected into his own net by home defender Robbie McKenzie.

The applause at the end was reserved for the visitors. After securing a fine point up the coast at Middlesbrough earlier this season, Rotherham had fired a shot across the bows of another Yorkshire promotion hopeful.

If it had ended in a famous away victory then Hull, who imploded defensively on the resumption, could have had few complaints – even accounting for their early dominance.

The hosts’ flakiness in the second half was a reminder of some lamentable and uncertain times last season when they lacked direction.

Their margin for error in their current quest to reach the play-offs is now significantly diminished after this result.

Yet at half-time the complexion of the game was so much different as Hull’s irrepressible golden duo of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki came to the party again.

Given their fragile statistics on the road the sight of Rotherham’s game plan effectively being shredded to pieces inside the first 25 minutes must have been disheartening.

A deadly early opener set the tone when Evandro’s probing pass sent Bowen clear, with the Tigers’ top-scorer drilling home an accurate low shot past Marek Rodak – his seventh goal in five home matches.

It was a concession that the Millers struggled to come to terms with as the hosts took a seemingly vice-like grip on the game and looked the part.

The chastening inevitably culminated in a second goal on 22 minutes and the odds were firmly on it being a long night for the visitors.

Slick work saw Stephen Kingsley supply Grosicki, whose cut-back was converted from close range by Campbell, who helped himself to a tenth goal in what is turning out to be a renaissance season.

After slamming six unanswered goals past another struggling side in Bolton on New Year’s Day, Hull – with their creative axis of Bowen, Evandro and Grosicki posing countless problems –looked intent on delivering something resembling a reprise.

Thankfully for their sakes, Rotherham, who made a tactical change when Forde replaced Jerry Yates, stemmed the tide.

The first inklings of hope also arrived with Marshall, who had earlier made a scampering save to keep out Richie Towell’s long-ranger – showing agile reactions to beat away Will Vaulks’s piledriver, but it was still Hull’s half by a fair distance.

A sign of things to come saw Taylor get away down the right and his low cross was spilled by Marshall, Forde tapping home the rebound.

It was a sloppy concession by Hull and things suddenly got worse with rookie defender McKenzie – lining up in the centre alongside full debutant Liam Ridgewell – diverting Taylor’s effort into his own net.

An increasingly agitated home crowd added to the sense of edginess, with Hull’s best offering seeing a fine Grosicki half-volley produce an alert parry from Rodak. At the other end Marshall tipped away two Clark Robertson headers as the visitors went for the jugular, aided by some shambolic home defending.

Jackson Irvine’s header almost won it at the finish for the Tigers, but a victory would ultimately have served as an injustice.

Hull City: Marshall; Lichaj, McKenzie, Ridgewell, Kingsley; Henriksen; Bowen, Evandro (Milinkovic 78), Irvine, Evandro, Grosicki (Pugh 71); Campbell (Martin 82). Unused substitutes: Long, Burke, Stewart, Kane.

Rotherham United: Rodak; Ihiekwe, Wood (Taylor 45), Robertson; Vyner, Vaulks, Ajayi, Towell (Crooks 71), Mattock; Yates (Forde 38), Smith. Unused substitutes: Price, Newell, Williams, Jones.

Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).