Hull 2 Derby 1: Egyptian pair walking tall after giving Hull timely lift

IN a week when a furious sporting row had broken out over the images that adorn the walls of a hospitality area at the KC Stadium, it was the fans who inhabit the cheap seats who last night came up with the most fitting adornment.

Namely, the draping of two Egyptian flags at the front of the East Stand in honour of the Tigers’ trio of players who hail from the African country.

After acknowledging the gesture before kick-off, Gedo and Ahmed Elmohamady proceeded to score the goals that fired Hull back into the automatic promotion places.

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Whether Hull’s below-par display merited such a reward is debatable with 10-man Derby having the better of the chances created on a freezing night.

But that was of little consequence to the vast majority of the 15,677 crowd at the final whistle as they hailed the Egyptian duo.

It also meant the East Riding had something else to talk about other than the acrimonious spat between Hull FC rugby league club and the Stadium Management Company that runs the KC that had dominated the previous 48 hours.

The decision to remove the images honouring heroes from the Airlie Birds’ long history – most notably in the Johnny Whiteley Suite, where a giant image of Dean Windass scoring in the 2008 play-off final now hangs rather than one of the Boulevard’s favourite sons – has led to an angry response from Super League fans.

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A compromise seems unlikely with the SMC, owned by the Allam family who are also in charge of Hull, believing the rugby club should – as the Championship outfit do – pay for the privilege of hanging their own memorabilia at the KC.

What is not in doubt, however, is that the Tigers’ victory last night owed everything to not only Gedo and Elmohamady but also Steve Bruce’s reaction to a tepid first-half display from his side.

The Hull manager’s decision to replace ineffective front pair of Robert Koren and Jay Simpson with Nick Proschwitz and Gedo proved inspired, as did the switch to 4-4-2.

Bruce’s reward came within 90 seconds of the restart as Gedo met a searching Robbie Brady cross with a powerful header that flew across Adam Legdzins and into the net.

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The Egyptian was immediately mobbed by his delighted team-mates and his home debut almost took on dream proportions just five minutes later when he came close to grabbing a second.

Fellow countryman Elmohamady was the creator this time with a floated cross that Gedo stabbed just over.

Finally, Derby, comfortably the better side in the first half, were provoked into action as Jamie Ward stung David Stockdale’s hands with a crisp drive.

The loanee from Fulham, however, could do nothing about a shot from Conor Sammon on 66 minutes that crashed against the crossbar before again bouncing to safety.

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Sammon again went close a couple of minutes later before the equaliser arrived seven minutes from time when Jamie Ward tapped into an empty net after Stockdale had uncharacteristically flapped at Craig Bryson’s cross.

There was, though, a final sting in the tail for the Rams and again it came with the banner ‘Made in Egypt’ as Elmohamady struck with just three minutes to go by turning in Brady’s corner.

The game really was up for Derby when Gareth Roberts saw red in stoppage time for an ugly challenge on Proshchwitz, who was then guilty of a glaring miss shortly after.

What perhaps made Hull’s second-half showing all the more impressive was just how lacklustre the home side had been in the first half.

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In fact, until Stephen Quinn headed Elmohamady’s cross just wide in stoppage time the Tigers had offered little of note.

Instead, a series of misplaced passes and poor decision-making on the part of Hull meant Derby, despite looking every bit a team seemingly marooned in mid-table, looked the more likely to break the deadlock.

The most clear-cut of those chances came in the eighth minute when a delightful chipped pass by Paul Coutts found the unmarked Sammon ,who could only shoot wide from ten yards out.

Jack Hobbs also had to pull off an inch-perfect tackle to deny Ward a clear run at goal after an awful Quinn pass to leave the home fans in a crowd of 15,677 distinctly unimpressed ahead of the half-time whistle.

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Those jeers, however, soon gave way to cheers as, first, Gedo and then Elmohamady struck the all-important goals.

And while it is debatable that the two Egyptians’ image will be adorning the walls of the KC any time soon there can be no doubt just how popular the duo are right now in Hull.

Hull City: Stockdale; Chester, Hobbs, McShane; Elmohamady, Meyler, Evans (Rosenior 90), Quinn, Brady; Koren (Gedo 46), Simpson (Proschwitz 46). Jakupovic, Cairney, Olofinjana, Fathi.

Derby County: Legzdins; Freeman (Robinson 81), Brayford, Keogh, Roberts; Coutts (Buxton 84), Hughes, Hendrick, Bryson; Ward, Sammon (Jacobs 73). Unused substitutes: Fielding, Davies, Gjokaj, Hoganson.

Referee: R Madley (West Yorkshire).