IT’S never dull in Hull. A slogan the locals have long since adopted as a badge of honour and one that Grant McCann seems intent on living up to as City’s still newish head coach.
Attack, judging by this hugely entertaining encounter, is to be the best form of defence for the Tigers under the Northern Irishman.
The bold approach of allowing what at times felt like the entire midfield to pour forward in support of the attack means there are going to be goals aplenty at the KCOM Stadium this season.
That there was just one last night left many in the 10,240 crowd – the second lowest for a league game since City left Boothferry Park in 2002 – scratching their heads in bemusement. There were certainly no lack of opportunities. Twenty five, in fact, including a missed penalty by Jarrod Bowen and four first-half efforts from the two sides that struck either the post or crossbar.
Blackburn Rovers, who like the hosts were not afraid to commit men forward at the slightest hint of an opening, were responsible for three of those with Stewart Downing striking a post and Bradley Johnson twice hitting the crossbar.
Tony Mowbray’s men were also marginally the better side after the break so no doubt made the return journey along the M62 believing justice was done in terms of the result. They were probably right.
Nevertheless, there were times last night – and particularly in those opening 45 minutes – when Hull were a joy to watch.
Kamil Grosicki was Blackburn’s chief tormentor out wide. He struck a post just after the half-hour. moments before an exquisite shot curled just a fraction wide.
The Pole’s two misses came in the wake of Bowen fluffing the home side’s best opportunity of the night when his 13th-minute penalty was beaten away by Christian Walton.
That the finishing touch could not be applied by anyone in the home ranks – the otherwise excellent Daniel Batty also spurned two gilt-edged opportunities – was frustrating.
But if there was a consolation as the Tigers fans filed out into a night that possessed a surprising chill then it came via the likelihood the East Riding will witness plenty of thrills and spills this season.
Perhaps the best passage of play to sum up City’s gung-ho approach came just before the interval.
With midfield duo Jackson Irvine and Batty the most advanced in amber and black, Tom Eaves attempted a pass near the centre circle that always looked on the ambitious side.
Sure enough, Rovers duly intercepted and poured forward.
With City struggling for numbers, the ball was worked to Johnson who was unfortunate to see his effort strike the crossbar.
It was the second time on the night the former Leeds United midfielder had been denied by the woodwork and the third overall for Blackburn, Downing having hit a post after being released by Bradley Dack.
Both sides continued to press after the restart.
Batty drove narrowly wide for City, who also spurned late chances through Bowen and Leonardo Lopes.
This profligacy meant Rovers were able to take the points thanks to Derrick Williams’s first goal for almost exactly two years.
He rose high above the home defence to nod Downing’s free-kick into the corner of the net from a few yards out to settle a game that had been anything but dull.
Hull City: Long; McKenzie (Lopes 74), Burke, De Wijs, Kingsley; Batty (Bowler 67), Stewart, Irvin; Bowen, Eaves (Magennis 67), Grosicki. Unused substitutes: Ingram, Tafazolli, Toral, Fleming.
Blackburn Rovers: Walton; Bennett, Lenihan, Williams, Cunningham; Johnson, Travis; Downing, Dack (Rothwell 73), Armstrong (Buckley 90); Gallagher (Graham 64). Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Nyambe, Bell, Evans.
Referee: J Simpson (Lancashire).