Hull City show fighting qualities as unrest simmers among fans

Hull City's Michael Dawson celebrates scoring his side's goal
Hull City's Michael Dawson celebrates scoring his side's goal
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ON a day when Psalm 23 received a rendition, the serenity of green pastures and quiet waters flowing by will have seemed a world away for Hull City supporters.

West Brom’s unofficial The Lord Is My Shepherd anthem, aired by the visiting flock in the first half, infers by definition to calm and happiness, but there was not too much of that among the East Yorkshire congregation.

There was a spot of relief at least at Hull avoiding another punishing defeat after a second-half performance that was as animated as the first period was lifeless.

Blessings also for the fact that Salomon Rondon somehow missed a heaven-sent chance to floor Hull’s comeback with what would have been a psychologically damaging stoppage-time winner.

Hull clearly have issues to address and resolve, both on and off the pitch.

On it, it is a season when the Tigers have to take whatever they can get and while Saturday represented an opportunity lost, it could have been a whole lot worse.

Hull’s show of character after sloppily falling behind in an atrocious first half was an obvious tick in a box, along with the second-half impact of the likes of Adama Diomande and Dieumerci Mbokani.

It will be a long haul this winter and far from stress-free, but Hull are at least in there fighting.

The relief following Michael Dawson’s 72nd-minute equaliser – which cancelled out an opener 11 minutes before the break from Gareth McAuley – was obvious, particularly from Dawson’s central defensive colleague Curtis Davies. He admitted culpability for letting McAuley connect with a free header to put the visitors ahead.

Davies said: “You can see from the celebration I was quite happy that he (Dawson) had scored that goal.

“I do not normally join in the celebrations with the lads, but he bailed me out, so I was happy it went in.

“To be fair, he nicked it off me, I was getting ready to whack it towards goal, but he got there first. I do not mind; he scored and that was the main thing.

“I let us down. I lost McAuley on the corner and he got away and scored and that is what he he is good at.

“I am one of the best headers of the ball in our team and that is why I was down to mark him, but I let him get away from me.

“That is unfortunate, but, to be fair, the lads bounced back and I got away with it.”

For the 11th successive top-flight game, Hull conceded the first goal and it added to the sense of disquiet amid a tetchy atmosphere that saw sections of home fans vent their spleen in the direction of the club’s owners.

The on-pitch fare certainly compounded matters following a write-off of a first half when Hull lacked wit, tempo, energy and belief – before receiving boos at its conclusion.

They deservedly trailed to McAuley’s opener, with the defender rising unchallenged following a well-delivered inswinging corner from Matt Phillips.

It would have got worse if Craig Dawson had got on the end of another inviting flag-kick moments before the break.

Hull rediscovered their appetites on the restart against an Albion team who boasted the worst possession statistics of any Premier League side in 2016-17.

Diomande proved the catalyst and was involved in the Tigers’ first move of quality, which ended with Jake Livermore’s low shot being held by the hitherto under-employed Ben Foster.

The hosts took heart with the alert Foster then turning away a free-kick from Robert Snodgrass, another who found his mojo on the resumption.

Just when it looked like Albion had weathered the storm, Hull found a lifeline after Diomande was fouled just inside the visitors’ half.

Mbokani impressively nodded down Snodgrass’s deep delivery and Dawson showed instincts of a striker to hook the ball home for his third goal in his past five outings.

The stage was set for a winner. But, in the event, it almost arrived from the visitors, who pepped up late on.

First, David Marshall smartly tipped over Nacer Chadli’s free-kick before Rondon inexplicably headed wide of a gaping goal following James McClean’s centre.

A winner would have been harsh on Hull, with Davies adding: “We have got a lot of spirit here. That is one thing you cannot question about us is our character, our spirit.

“Fair enough, we have been losing games, but we always put our heart into it.

“The only time you can say we have not is Bournemouth away. That was a gutless performance, but, other than that, you do not see players downing tools.”

Hull City: Marshall; Elmohamady, Dawson, Davies, Tymon (Robertson 90); Snodgrass, Clucas, Livermore, Henriksen (Meyler 89); Mason (Diomande 46), Mbokani. Unused substitutes: Jakupovic, Maguire, Huddlestone, Bowen.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster; McAuley, Evans, Dawson, Nyom; Phillips (Robson-Kanu 83), Yacob, Fletcher (McLean 64), Brunt; Morrison (Chadli 79), Rondon. Unused substitutes: Palmer, Olsson, Gardner, Galloway.

Referee: P Tierney (Lancashire).