Hull City in a three-horse race with Sunderland and Peterborough United for promotion

IN his days at Rotherham United, Steve Evans famously wore shorts, T-shirt, flip-flops and a sombrero when he turned up at Elland Road on the final day of the 2014-15 season.

The larger-than-life manager had promised Millers fans that he would don his beach attire if his side guaranteed their second-tier safety by the time they arrived at Leeds United – a club he would later manage. A man of his word, he did just that.

It is looking unlikely that someone Evans – now managing Gillingham – knows well in Hull City head coach Grant McCann will be in holiday gear and mode on the last day of this current campaign.

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There is a fair chance McCann will be in his business suit when his side visit The Valley to face Charlton – managed by ex-Tigers chief Nigel Adkins – on May 8.

On target: Scorer Tom Eaves celebrates with Keane Lewis-Potter. Pictures: Tony Johnson

City’s careless coughing up of two points was exposed by the news that Sunderland had won their eighth match in their last 10 outings and Peterborough United had smashed Accrington to top up their goals difference.

To many, the weekend events intensified the belief that the race for automatic promotion will go right down to the wire, with three teams likely to be pitted in a ferocious battle for two spots.

Adding to the intrigue is Sunderland, the side in third, visiting leaders Hull and second-placed Posh in April.

McCann consoled himself with the fact that Hull played well on Saturday and he had a point. His side also extended their unbeaten run to seven matches and they have lost just once in 10 games.

Injured: Tigers medical team treat Alfie Jones for a head injury.

But as Evans knows, results are king at this stage of proceedings. Performances are a bonus.

McCann said: “There are still eight games to go. Sunderland have got 10 and Peterborough have got nine. There are still a lot of points to play for and teams have got to play each other in and around that top end of the league.

“There’s going to be more twists and turns for sure and we have got to keep focused on our own job and keep playing the way we played because if we play like that we will comfortably create the opportunities to get goals.”

Unfortunately, while McCann’s side created 14 chances on Saturday, just three were on target.

Bad miss: Jacob Greaves heads against the woodwork.

Six good opportunities were created by George Honeyman, whose axis down the right with Lewis Coyle was a prolific one.

With City leading 1-0 and seeking the second goal to kill the game and quite possibly secure their fourth 2-0 home win on the spin, Honeyman laid a chance on a golden platter just before the hour mark for Jacob Greaves.

Honeyman’s fine inswinging corner was flicked on by Keane Lewis-Potter and it looked like Greaves could not miss from a yard out. He somehow contrived to head against the crossbar.

Ultimately, it was a set-piece at the other end which would prove telling with Anthony O’Connor’s corner met by Jack Tucker, with visiting substitute Olly Lee staying alive to latch onto the defender’s header to blast the ball home from close range and equalise – and keep the Gills’ outside play-off hopes just about intact.

Honeyman, whose supply line provided chances for scorer Tom Eaves and Keane Lewis-Potter – twice – after the Gills’ equaliser will have known full well at the final whistle that this was a result that will have been hailed on Wearside, where he used to ply his trade, and not Humberside.

That said, it ultimately could have been worse for Hull.

Gillingham may have been up against it for spells in the game, but they did not go away and were nothing less than game.

They created the first chance after just 15 seconds when John Akinde fired over and the last one in the 10th minute of stoppage time with substitute Dominic Samuel diverting Vadaine Oliver’s flick-on onto the post after Ryan Jackson’s long throw caused problems – not for the first time.

It was the last kick of the game and it nearly won it for the visitors, who also hit the post early on through Oliver.

For Hull, who lost Alfie Jones to concussion late on and will be without defender Reece Burke for two to three weeks with a calf issue sustained in training on Friday, it was not a straightforward end to the week.

Nevertheless, there were things to be enthused about.

Eaves’s first goal since December 2 – in his first start since early January – was an obvious tick in the box with the striker’s deft header from Mallik Wilks’s instinctively hooked cross on nine minutes drawing first blood against his old club.

Eaves led the line well, especially in a first half which also saw him clip the post after a arcing Honeyman run and put another decent opportunity wide.

Brought into midfield, Regan Slater also had a pretty good day, as McCann acknowledged after.

Hull did a fair bit right, if not at the sharp end. Eaves’s strike at least boosted his sense of well-being. That was something.

Eaves, a former loan signing of Evans at Rotherham, said: “I thought I did well and held the ball up well and got my goal in the first half and was unlucky not to get another and hit the post and the keeper made a good save.

“To be honest, it was just really nice to be starting a game again. I just want to be starting games.

“Twenty minutes and 10 minutes here and there is hard to get any sort of momentum. I am just there to help the team and be part of the jigsaw and we are all trying to fit in. We all have the same goal.

“I think it is important not to get too focused on other teams. We can only control our own performances. We drew and I felt the performance was good and we had really good spells in the game and moved the ball around really well throughout.”

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