Hull City 2 Stoke City 1 - the Tigers' very own version of the star man highlights his importance for the umpteenth time

KCOM Stadium, Hull.
KCOM Stadium, Hull.
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STOP Jarrod Bowen and you basically stop Hull City was the pre-match assertion of former Tigers midfielder Sam Clucas, now in the red and white stripes of Stoke City.

As one who does not miss too much, you can bet your bottom dollar that those comments would not have passed Hull head coach Grant McCann by or his players.

It was a handy pre-game team talk to the likes of Kamil Grosicki, Jackson Irvine and Tom Eaves, among others.

But in the event, Clucas's words were prescient as the irrepressible Bowen bagged a clinical second-half brace to take his goals tally to 15 for the season - with Hull's talisman having scored ten times in his last nine matches and a head-turning 33 since last December.

His leveller on 49 minutes was a rasping low strike and he soon tucked home a rebound from close in.

Hull fans need no reminding of the importance of Bowen, with a chant of 'Don't ever take my Bowen away' highlighting their hopes - and prayers - that he will still be a Tigers player by the end of January.

That said, it was not all sunshine and roses, with Hull turning proceedings around after trailing at the interval.

Few could have said ahead of the game that if you stopped Sam Vokes - a hefty £10m arrival from Burnley in last year's winter window - you diminished the powers of Stoke given their atrocious 2019 so far.

Brought into seemingly help the Potters make a late play-off push last term, the Welshman had been toiling in a relegation dogfight this season - only to find a spot of relief out east.

On the ground where he made his Stoke debut in February, Vokes helped himself to his first league goal of a tough campaign, heading in the sort of stock-in trade headed goal that he has forged his career upon just seven minutes in.

At the other end, Bowen - operating out wide - barely got a sniff early before announcing himself in a portent of things to come.

It came in the 23th minute when his angled low shot was turned away by Jack Butland, who had earlier made a textbook parry to keep out Grosicki's stinging drive with Stoke's rearguard looking like one who easily hand out gifts.

Another present could have yielded a leveller for Jordy De Wijs, left unmarked in the box from Bowen's dangerous free-kick, only to head over with his rueful expression suggesting that he should have done a lot better.

After struggling to get last weekend's poor showing at Barnsley out of their system early on - reinforced when Vokes headed home following an inviting cross from James McClean - Hull upped it slightly, but it was still not wholly convincing, with Bowen not being the throbbing heartbeat that he usually is.

He most definitely was in the previous home game against Preston and also in this home fixture with the Potters last season, when he and Grosicki had a ball and both scored a goal apiece.

A header from Tom Eaves on the stroke of half-time, straight at Butland following Bowen's corner provided Hull with further evidence of the vulnerability of Stoke's rearguard, but it was still a bit of an inconclusive performance from the hosts.

The onus was firmly on McCann's side to grasp the nettle, with Stoke justifiably happy to sit deep in numbers and try and further frustrate the hosts and stifle their ability to get behind them and utilise the threat of Bowen and Grosicki.

Fortunately, their game plan was shaken by a clinical Hull leveller, courtesy of the man Bowen, the precursor to the Tigers rediscovering their mojo.

The figure who Hull fans luxuriate in calling a 'star man' then had the home faithful on their feet again after gobbling up a rebound after Eaves's header was parried by Butland following Eric Lichaj's floated centre - as his value to the amber and black cause was further reinforce, although it was hardly needed.

The stage was set for Hull to seemingly seal the game, but as the clock started to tick, Stoke - after a fraught opening twenty minutes of the second half - slowly managed to find their feet a little and regroup.

A moment of threat saw Martins Indi head straight at George Long following Ryan Woods's corner - and represented a warning to Hull of the need to finish off the visitors.

But two was enough.


Hull City: Long; Lichaj, Burke, De Wijs, Elder; Batty, Lopes; Bowen, Irvine, Grosicki (Bowler 84); Eaves (Tafazolli 88). Substitutes unused: Ingram, Honeyman, Kingsley, Pennington, Lewis-Potter.

Stoke City: Butland; Edwards, Batth, Martins Indi, Ward; Ince (Powell 82), Clucas, Woods (Ndiaye 72), Allen, McClean (Gregory 62); Vokes. Substitutes unused: Federici, Shawcross, Diouf, Gregory, Cousins.

Referee: D Bond (Lancs).