Final ball is key if Hull City are not to squander early-season momentum

Hull City's Mallik Wilks (centre) (Picture: PA)Hull City's Mallik Wilks (centre) (Picture: PA)
Hull City's Mallik Wilks (centre) (Picture: PA)
Hull City may have kicked-off their 2020-21 League One campaign with six victories from eight matches, but Grant McCann still believes that his players need to improve in the final third.

The Tigers’ excellent form since relegation from the Championship saw them topping the table at the start of the weekend, however they now sit third having somehow conspired to lose Saturday’s clash with Peterborough, a game which they bossed for long periods.

The dominant side throughout the first period and for the majority of the second, City failed to build on Mallik Wilks’s delightful 36th-minute opener and were eventually undone by the only two shots on target that the Posh managed all afternoon.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The hosts created more than enough in the final third to have warranted a share of the spoils at the very least, only to come up short when it really mattered.

Grant McCann (Picture: PA)Grant McCann (Picture: PA)
Grant McCann (Picture: PA)

And while they have got away with not quite being as ruthless as they might have been in previous outings, McCann insists that improving their quality in and around the opposition box is a must.

“We’re still early in the season, but this is one area where I think we need to be better,” the Northern Irishman said.

“Although we’ve scored some goals, I think we could still be better with the players we’ve got at the top end of the pitch.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We can also be better when we get up there with our delivery into the box. It’s a little bit mixy-matchy at the minute. There’s one good one, one bad one.

“We need to be more consistent when we get into the final third – whether it’s midfielders, full-backs or wide players – then we’ll score some goals.”

McCann was not completely satsified with his side’s efforts at the other end of the field, either.

“I thought first half we were excellent. We were pleased coming in at half-time. Second half we started off quite similar, but then we get done off a cross,” he added.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There were too many crosses coming into our box second half. We just weren’t getting close enough to the crosser and then we end up losing [Johnson] Clarke-Harris in our box. It’s not good enough from us.

“The second goal is just a pull-back where the deflection goes in. We have one at the other end and it hits the post. It was just unfortunate. I don’t think they had many other opportunities.

“Usually when the ball comes in our box we’ve been, on the whole, really good but today we were a little bit lacklustre on the first goal. We’ve let a cross come in and we’ve left somebody free.

“The second one, I don’t know how he [Siriki Dembele] has got free on the edge of our box, we need to look at it and we need to learn from this.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

City were fairly quickly into their stride and took control of proceedings early on. Wilks and Keane Lewis-Potter got into plenty of promising attacking positions down the flanks, but the Posh defenders stood up well in the tackle in and around their own box.

Having blasted one half-chance high and wide on 35 minutes, Willks did however find his range 60 seconds later.

With Peterborough appealing for a foul in midfield the ball was shifted quickly into the path of the Tigers’ leading marksman, who raced down the right, played a one-two with Josh Magennis, then caressed a classy finish into the far corner with his left foot.

City continued to look comfortable after the resumption, though they never really got their offensive game going and Peterborough were able to push them further and further back towards their own goal as the hour-mark approached.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And then, almost out of nothing, the visitors drew level. Joe Ward delivered an inviting cross from the right and Clarke-Harris got across his marker to expertly glance a header into the top corner of Matt Ingram’s goal.

Conceding seemed to jolt Hull into life and their response to United’s 63rd-minute equaliser was positive. Greg Docherty fired narowly wide from 20 yards out before Richie Smallwood drew a rather unconvincing near-post stop out of Christy Pym.

Wilks went closer still, reacting sharply inside the penalty area and seeing what looked a goal-bound effort deflected against the upright and behind for a corner.

Another deflection would then prove to be decisive at the other end of the field. Ward again did superbly down the right, skinning Callum Elder and centering for Dembele, who benefited from a huge slice of fortune as his shot on the turn hit Jacob Greaves and looped over the helpless Ingram.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Undeterred, McCann’s men kept coming and substitute Hakeeb Adelakun tested Pym before Tom Eaves’ excellent header from a George Honeyman cross then drifted narrowly wide, though the Tigers would eventually run out of time.

Hull: Ingram; Emmanuel, Burke, Greaves, Elder; Honeyman, Smallwood, Docherty; Wilks, Magennis (Eaves 72), Lewis-Potter (Adelakun 72). Unused substitutes: Long, De Wijs, Jones, Slater, Mayer.

Peterborough: Pym; Thompson (Mason 90), Kent, Beevers, Butler; Ward, Taylor, Brown, Dembele; Clarke-Harris, Broom (Clarke 51). Unused substitutes: Gyollai, Eisa, Reed, Blake-Tracy, Hamilton.

Referee: T Nield (West Yorks).

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.