Hull City 0 West Brom 0: Bruce denies Ben Arfa rift

Hull City manager Steve Bruce.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce.
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THE elation of Hull City’s hard-fought draw at Everton on Wednesday night quickly dissipated at the KC Stadium this afternoon.

Yes, Steve Bruce’s side picked up another point as they finished goalless with West Bromwich Albion.

However, in truth, the East Yorkshire team needed to be doing so much more against fellow strugglers at the wrong end of the table; this result saw them slip to 18th and the relegation zone.

The 1-1 draw at Goodison Park had ended a run of four successive losses for the Tigers but there was little further cheer here as fans were given a stark reminder of their lack of Premier League pedigree.

Granted, Allan McGregor brilliantly saving James Morrison’s eight minute penalty after Victor Anichebe drew out a foul from Jake Livermore, brought the expected elated response from the majority of the crowd at KC Stadium.

But, thereafter, the first half was as miserable as the freezing weather with neither side showing any real sign of asserting any authority let alone daring to create a meaningful chance.

Bruce dropped Nikica Jelavic to the bench to facilitate Abel Hernandez’s return after the striker had missed two games while on paternity leave in Uruguay.

Sone Aluko, who scored their goal at Everton, was promoted to the starting line-up with Mohamed Diame absent due to a knee injury.

Ahmed Elmohamady was a useful outlet on the right for Hull at times but on the handful of occasions he delivered an inviting cross no one seemed interested in benefiting in the middle, either poor control or lack of movement killing any hope of a chance.

Indeed, it wasn’t until the hour mark that the hosts really tested Ben Foster in West Brom’s goal, Livermore advancing with some rare purpose to dig out a cross from the right which saw the ex-England keeper have to dive low to his left to deny Stephen Quinn’s firm header.

Livermore had a shot on target just two minutes later as Hull’s confidence improved but they were quickly reminded of their perilous nature when Craig Gardner went close with a curling free-kick which forced McGregor into another fine save.

Hernandez nearly celebrated his new arrival with a free-kick of his own that dipped just over the bar as the Tigers pressed again heading into the final stages but, in fairness, a point each was probably about right.

QPR’s 2-0 win over Burnley saw them reach out of the relegation places at Hull’s expense.

Next up for City? A trip in a week’s time to leaders Chelsea who, having today suffered their first loss of the entire season at Newcastle, will be even more dangerous than ever before.

Afterwards, Hull boss Bruce denied reports of a bust-up with Hatem Ben Arfa despite leaving the on-loan midfielder out of his squad.

Bruce hauled Ben Arfa off after just 35 minutes of last week’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester United and also left him out for the midweek draw at Everton.

But despite accusing Ben Arfa of “not hurting enough” during the Old Trafford defeat, Bruce insisted he is yet to make a decision on whether to extend Ben Arfa’s loan spell which is due to run out in January.

Bruce said: “There’s no bust-up - of course he’s not happy about being taken off but he’s got to be treated like everyone else and win his spurs back by trying hard and getting back in the team.

“He didn’t hurt enough at Old Trafford to be among the substitutes at Goodison Park or today. His attitude is okay and I haven’t got any problems with his personality is but he simply has to roll his sleeves up and work for the cause.

“There is no disputing he has got ability but ability is not enough at this level so he will be treated like everyone else. We will see what December and January brings and I will sit down with him and see where we are.”

Bruce admitted his side had endured another frustrating afternoon which but for the heroics of goalkeeper Allan McGregor could have been worse.

McGregor saved a ninth minute penalty from Graham Dorrans and also pulled off a magnificent stop to keep out Craig Gardner’s second half free-kick.

Bruce added: “I’m still convinced we’ve got enough in the squad to be better than we were last season and we have got enough to see us through.”