Hull City's promotion hopes lie in tatters following home mauling by Brentford

Brentford's hat-trick hero Said Benrahma celebrates scoring against Hull City. Picture: Getty Images
Brentford's hat-trick hero Said Benrahma celebrates scoring against Hull City. Picture: Getty Images
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Just three weeks ago, Hull City were within one win of the Championship's top-six.

Five consecutive defeats later, their promotion hopes lie in tatters.

Things looked bleak enough for the Tigers when their two most influential attacking players left the club within the space of 36 hours during the final throes of the January transfer window.

Fears that departures of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki would spell the end of their play-off push were then confirmed by a 5-1 mauling at the hands of Brentford on Saturday afternoon.

The scoreline could easily have been far worse.

The loss of Bowen and Grosicki was always going to mean that City offered less going forwards, however their exits shouldn't really have made a great deal of difference to matters at the other end of the field.

Yet, Hull were carved open time and time again by the Bees, a team light years ahead of them and a great example of just how far away Grant McCann's men actually are from being genuine promotion contenders.

It's not an exaggeration to say that the Tigers are now in free-fall, nine points shy of sixth-placed Bristol City following what was a fourth home loss on the bounce.

There were chants of "we want Allam out" to be heard during Saturday's capitulation, and the blame for this disintegration lies squarely at the feet of those at the top of the club, the ones making the decisions.

While selling Bowen to West Ham for in excess of £20 million and saving themselves £27,000 per week in wages on Grosciki, a player who could have left for nothing in the summer, undeniably makes good business sense, it smacks of a lack of ambition.

The pair made Hull the threat they were on the counter-attack - as good as any team in the division - and their statistics don't lie.

Seventeen goals and seven assists for the ex-Hereford man, plus seven goals and five assists by the Polish flyer. Any team would struggle to cope with such a loss.

McCann has been able to delve into the transfer market for attacking re-inforcements, and while it is far too early to pass judgement on those he has recruited, you just cannot find anything approaching a like-for-like replacement for a player of Bowen's class.

Youngster Keane Lewis-Potter and ex-Leeds United man Mallik Wilks started on the flanks against Brentford, and while the former has bags of potential, he is still finding his way.

Wilks, meanwhile, barely got a kick for a Barnsley side who have spent much of this season propping up the division before his arrival in East Yorkshire.

All things considered, there appears very little cause for optimism if you are a City fan, a feeling reflected around the KCOM Stadium prior to kick-off.

The atmosphere was flat enough to begin with and only deteriorated when a 12th-minute corner was taken short to Said Benrahma, who was able to stroll past George Honeyman and beat George Long all too easily with a strike from 22 yards out.

Things got worse eight minutes later. Benrahma's cross from the right was met my Ollie Watkins then headed into his own goal by the hapless Reece Burke for 2-0.

The hosts were offered a lifeline by some calamitous goalkeeping from David Raya, who failed to control Ryan Tafazolli's over-hit pass forwards, then couldn't recover in time to prevent the ball from rolling into the back of his net.

The Spaniard's gaffe meant that Hull were still in the game at the interval, though they could have been dead and buried, but for a couple of excellent blocks by Tafazolli and some decent goalkeeping from Long.

The Tigers even began the second period brightly, but the game was over as a contest on 58 minutes when Watkins was left unmarked to nod in Rico Henry's left-wing centre.

Benrahma made it 4-1 five minutes later with a first-time finish from Bryan Mbeumo's intelligent pull-back, then completed his hat-trick five minutes from time to round-off an absolutely wretched afternoon for City.