Hull 0 Derby 2: Butterfield’s double knocks Tigers off summit to frustrate Bruce

Derby County's Chris Martin (left) and Hull City's Harry Maguire.
Derby County's Chris Martin (left) and Hull City's Harry Maguire.
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NOT so long ago, sticking the word ‘Black’ in front of a day of the week in this country signalled a catastrophic event had taken place, such as a Stock Market crash or a run on Sterling.

Now, of course, the creeping Americanisation of British culture means ‘Black Friday’ has an altogether different meaning, as the day when normally rational people come to blows in the aisles of their local supermarket in an attempt to snap up a cut-price TV.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce.

In Hull City’s case, however, Black Friday 2015 had far more in common with the original usage than a bargain bonanza as two goals from Jacob Butterfield condemned Steve Bruce’s men to defeat.

And while the loss was not quite catastrophic, it was nevertheless damaging to Hull’s promotion hopes as top spot was surrendered to the Rams.

Hull could have few complaints, either. Not only were Derby much more clinical than their hosts in front of goal, but far too many of Hull’s big names failed to deliver.

Mohamed Diame was largely anonymous throughout, while it took until the second half for the Tigers’ midfield to discover any semblance of understanding and by then it was simply too late.

Butterfield had seen to that with two sweet strikes that provided just reward to an enterprising visiting side who had clearly come to the East Riding determined to take the game to Hull.

On the sort of night that Hull’s trawlermen would have dreaded back when the city was a thriving centre for the fishing industry, the Tigers’ defence was initially all at sea.

Bruce had opted for a 4-3-3 formation in the driving wind and rain, switching Moses Odubajo to left-back in an attempt to nullify the threat of Tom Ince and his tendency to cut inside on to his stronger foot.

Derby, however, found it far too easy to pick holes in the Hull backline and could have been ahead long before Butterfield made the breakthrough on 18 minutes.

That the Rams had to wait until then to score owed everything to a quite brilliant save from 
Allan McGregor and a couple of
 desperate blocks deep in Hull territory.

George Thorne was the unfortunate County man to be denied by McGregor, who got down smartly to beat away a low drive that seemed destined for the bottom corner.

Harry Maguire and Sam Clucas were responsible for the two early blocks that left Cyrus Christie and Andreas Weimann frustrated before Derby’s dominance was eventually rewarded.

Neat interplay between Weimann and Chris Martin caused the initial problem for a slow-to-react home defence and although Clucas did pull off a tackle, the ball broke to Butterfield and he fired into the net.

It was the midfielder’s second goal since joining the Rams from Huddersfield Town in a £4.75m deal, but he only had to wait another 16 minutes for his third.

Again Hull’s defending was poor as a weak clearing header fell to Butterfield, who drilled a shot beyond a rather laborious dive from McGregor.

By then, Bruce had already switched back to the 4-4-2 that had been the Tigers’ favoured set-up in recent weeks.

It meant Hull had more 
balance in attack and it was no coincidence that their best spell of the first half came after the change.

First, Tom Huddlestone brought a flying save from Scott Carson with a 25-yard effort that swerved viciously shortly before reaching the former Leeds United goalkeeper.

Then, following neat work by Shaun Maloney on the left, Abel Hernandez thundered a shot goalwards that Carson did very well to claw to safety from under his crossbar.

Stephen Warnock then did well to clear the danger from a Clucas cross when facing his own goal to, at least, ensure the opening 45 minutes ended on something of a positive for the hosts.

Derby had another let-off soon after the restart when Richard Keogh’s miscued clearance from an Odubajo cross squirmed wide when the ball could have gone anywhere.

Maloney then went close twice in quick succession. His first effort came after the Scot had found sufficient space in the County area to fire a shot that narrowly missed the target with Carson at full stretch.

Then, as the game approached the final quarter, Maloney latched on to a loose ball after Hernandez’s run had been checked but again his aim was waywards and the shot flew over the crossbar.

Charles brought a save from McGregor as the home side pushed forward in search of a way back into proceedings before Ince fired narrowly wide just before the end.

His miss meant Hull, at least, did not have to suffer the indignity of a former player delivering the final blow but, nevertheless, Black Friday 2015 proved to be a miserable affair for the Tigers.

Hull City: McGregor; Elmohamady, Davies (Aluko 75), Maguire, Odubajo (Akpom 75); Livermore, Huddlestone, Clucas; Maloney, Hernandez, Diame (Hayden 83). Unused substitutes: Jakupovic, Bruce, Taylor, Snodgrass, Aluko.

Derby County: Carson; Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Butterfield (Bryson 69), Thorne, Hendrick; Ince, Martin, Weimann (Russell 83). Unused substitutes: Grant, Bent, Baird, Pearce, Shotton.

Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).