ONE of only three remaining unbeaten away records in the Championship perished at the KC Stadium as Hull City claimed a deserved three points.
Goals from David Meyler and Abel Hernandez within 97 seconds late in the first half were enough to condemn Birmingham City, who had started the weekend in second place, to a first defeat on the road.
As a result, the Tigers - one of only two teams still to lose at home in the second tier this season - leapfrogged over the Blues into the automatic promotion places.
It was an entertaining contest that saw both goalkeepers kept busy. Hull, though, prevailed thanks to the deadly finishing of Meyler and Hernandez, who took his tally to seven in ten league starts for the Yorkshire club.
Up to City’s two quick-fire goals, the first half had been a tale of the two goalkeepers, as both Allan McGregor and Tomasz Kuszczak pulled off fine saves to keep the game goalless.
City’s stopper was the first to shine, Birmingham carving out a tenth minute opening for Jacques Maghoma that the former Sheffield Wednesday man thundered goalwards only for McGregor to save with his legs.
McGregor also reacted quickly to keep out Maghoma again on 25 minutes after the wideman had wriggled past Andrew Robertson.
Kuszczak’s own moment of glory came in between McGregor’s two stops, the Blues ‘keeper pulling off a fine save to keep out a Sam Clucas volley.
The former Manchester United man was, however, unable to do anything on 36 minutes to keep out a drilled shot from Meyler after the midfielder had latched on to an Ahmed Elmohamady lay-off.
Likewise, Kuszczak was left well beaten by Hernandez after the club record signing had fired goalwards in the wake of a quite brilliant turn inside the penalty area.
Hull almost had a third on the stroke of half-time when Clucas fired a shot across the face of goal that Hernandez almost managed to touch in as the ball flashed past him.
Then, Hernandez and Chuba Akpom got in each other’s way in trying to touch in an Elmohamady cross.
Considering the pressure the Blues came under in those closing stages of the first half, the interval’s arrival was timely.
Certainly, Gary Rowett’s men were much improved after the restart and Jonathan Grounds was unfortunate to see his shot deflected behind by Michael Dawson.
McGregor then had to get a vital touch on a free-kick from substitute David Cotterill as Hull slipped deeper and deeper into their own territory.
Eventually, though, City regained their composure and Akpom brought a fine low save from Kuszczak with a drive.
Akpom then had a shot blocked after Jake Livermore had raced clear down the left before Kuszczak had to get down smartly to keep out Clucas and then Shaun Maloney fired into the side-netting.
Hull boss Steve Bruce said: “We’ve had a good week. In the first half we looked very composed against a Birmingham side who hadn’t lost away from home.
“It was a good performance against a team that are up the top there with us.”
Bruce praised striker Hernandez, who has learnt a lot since joining the club.
“Last year I can show you ones where he hit it and it was hit off the line or hit the post,” he said.
“He found it difficult really to settle in England. Thankfully he’s getting used to the language, he’s getting used to the food, he’s getting used to the weather.”
Following last season’s relegation from the Premier League, Bruce faced a summer of rebuilding.
“I knew how difficult it is, when I was at Birmingham we got relegated,” he said.
“We’ve got a mixture of some good young players and some good experience ones.”
The more physical approach from players in the division was also something Bruce felt his players had to get used to.
He explained: “You have to get used to the Championship because it is brutal. The referees let more go.”
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