Boro 0 Hull City 2: Hull duo put themselves in shop window as Boro slump to defeat

IT IS not supposed to be as easy as this on Teesside for Hull City.

Hull City's players celebrate Nick Proschwitz's (2nd left) goal during the FA Cup against Middlesbrough.

But times, they are a-changing. Diana Ross’s classic Chain Reaction was at number one the previous occasion that the Tigers triumphed at Boro, at the old Ayresome Park in March 1986, a dark season when the hosts were relegated to the old third division. Any sort of on-pitch reaction on Saturday would have been welcome from Boro, who produced a lifeless display.

Just Hull’s second win by the Tees in 22 attempts since 1955 and first in nine matches was as routine as they come. It had a touch of the rewinds for Steve Bruce, who lifted the Premier League trophy aloft at the Riverside after a Manchester United saunter in May 1996; with this a cakewalk too.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Bruce, who made nine changes from the side who lined up at Anfield on New Year’s Day, kept all of his big-hitters at home, with a virus in the Hull camp also restricting his options.

Yet it was Boro who looked afflicted. Aitor Karanka asked for 120 per cent from his charges to compete against Hull. What he got was considerably, considerably less.

Amid a professional, solid visiting display, there were two mentions in dispatches for goalscorers Aaron Mclean – his first goal in 11 months since ironically netting on loan for Ipswich against Boro – and Nick Proschwitz, promoted to the Tigers’ line-up just before kick-off due to a slight hamstring injury for Matty Fryatt.

Bruce acknowledged that both could leave East Yorkshire this January, with each putting themselves in the shop window, while being kind enough to help their current employers in the process.

On Mclean, who recently returned from a loan stint at St Andrews, Bruce said: “Birmingham are still keen and a few others are. Aaron’s got to do the best for him.

“He’s out of contract in the summer and we hope we can him fixed up.

“He never lets his chin go down, but it’s one of these things where he’s not playing every week.

“If there’s a solution that helps us both, then we’ll try and help him.

“Nick’s in the same boat. There’s been a few enquiries from Germany, which I expected, but we’ve got to find a solution.”

And on his side’s consummate display, Bruce, who scoffed at talk of a potential move for Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher, added: “It was so comfortable and a really easy afternoon for us. It would be wrong of me to single people out after a performance like that. All in all, it was a very nice day.

“We’ve got ourselves in a position where I can’t say anything bad about this squad.”

The previous occasion Boro met Hull in the third round was in 2006-07 when they progressed after a thrilling replay. Back then, the Teessiders were 27 places above Hull, while on Saturday, there was 25 positions between the pair in the other direction. And it showed.

Boro chief Karanka revealed after the game he is bringing Chelsea’s Nigerian defender Kenneth Omeruo on loan to Chelsea, where his good friend Jose Mourinho is in charge.

That was the only piece of positive news for Boro, who looked a far cry from the side who saw off Burnley and Reading in high-velocity Christmas showings at the Riverside.

Boss Karanka said: “We had a very good chance to win the game because Hull City made a lot of changes from their first 11.

“I said to my players at the beginning, if we play how we know how to play, we can beat them,” he said.

“But it wasn’t possible because we didn’t play with the same intensity we played against Burnley.”

Employing a 4-4-1-1 system with Marvin Emnes supporting lone striker Curtis Main, Boro produced a woeful first period, with all of their moves invariably breaking down around the 18-yard box as they coughed up possession time after time.

It was Hull have possessed the composure with their reward coming as early as the tenth minute when David Meyler’s deflected shot – after Emmanuel Ledesma gave away the ball – was latched onto by Mclean, who bundled the ball home past onrushing debutant goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos.

With Stephen Quinn and Meyler dominating the midfield, Hull were firmly in the box seat for the rest of the half, with Boro’s efforts token.

Their best moment arrived just before the hour, with a dangerous cross from Emnes just evading interval substitute Albert Adomah, with City rubber-stamping victory on 61 minutes.

Canny work down the right from Paul McShane and George Boyd saw the ball pulled back for Proschwitz, who lashed the ball home high into the net to seal Hull’s passage.

At the other end, veteran goalkeeper Steve Harper was a virtual bystander, with the 38-year-old’s only meaningful effort arriving deep in stoppage-time when he tipped over a Main effort.

On his afternoon back in the north-east, he added: “We were very good despite making so many changes. The lads that have been playing in the league deserved a break and the rest of us were chomping at the bit for a game.

“It was a good win.

“The only disappointing thing was that I didn’t get to play against Shay Given because having played for so long together at Newcastle that was my first thought when I saw the draw.

“I saw him in the tunnel afterwards, but that would have been the icing on the cake to play against him.”