IN A moment of gallows humour amid a grim 5-1 weekend thrashing at Brentford, Hull City supporters added a new line to their catchy ‘Mauled by the Tigers’ chant – lamenting about being ‘Stung by the Bees’.
The inclination to sing about being tamed by the Lions of Millwall three days on will have held limited appeal ahead of last night’s fixture.
Of primary importance to manager Nigel Adkins was the need to deliver some atonement after some bitter events at Brentford, which represented the heaviest defeat of his Hull reign.Leon Wobschall
On a night when the Tigers’ mentality and wherewithal was called into question, this win was well received by the hardy home faithful among the sparse 10,191 crowd – the lowest ever in the league at the KCOM Stadium since the club moved from Boothferry Park in December 2002.
News of sixth-placed Bristol City’s home defeat to Birmingham City will had added to the sense of satisfaction among the diehards at the final whistle, with Hull’s play-off flame still flickering after the hosts extended their unbeaten home sequence to eight league matches – stretching back to November 27.
Of primary importance to manager Nigel Adkins was the need to deliver some atonement after some bitter events at Brentford, which represented the heaviest defeat of his Hull reign.
Hull achieved that, albeit in nervy fashion against a Millwall side who were similarly smarting from a tough weekend loss to Preston, which their manager Neil Harris had labelled as “embarrassing”.
Once again, Hull were left to thank the input of star turn Jarrod Bowen – although not just at one end of the pitch, but both.
Bowen put the Tigers in front with a close-range opener on eight minutes – his 17th goal of the season and eighth in six matches on home soil.
But his late clearance on his own line to keep out Jake Cooper’s effort was equally important, if not moreso.
Earlier, Lions captain Shaun Hutchinson had cancelled out Bowen’s opener on 34 minutes, only for a first league goal for the Tigers in his first league start for loan winger Marc Pugh to put the hosts back in front shortly before the break. Much like in their previous home encounter with another relegation-threatened side in Rotherham United, Hull exclusively displayed the touches of artistry and class on show in the first period.
It was a half bookended by goals from Bowen and Pugh, but the hosts lead still remained an unnecessarily narrow one, with Millwall being the latest beneficiaries of the Tigers’ recently acquired charitable defensive traits.
Hull failed to clear their lines from a routine cross on the right from early substitute Steve Morison and the ball broke kindly for Hutchinson to fire home his first goal of the season from close range to bring the scores level.
A deserved interval advantage was afforded Hull when Todd Kane’s low cross fell at the feet of Pugh, who instinctively rifled home an unstoppable low shot – his first league goal since April 2017.
Yet the second-half warnings were clear for Hull, who had spurned a two-goal lead in their last KCOM outing with the Millers after lacking a ruthless streak.
Millwall, troubled by the early loss of Murray Wallace – who hobbled off after injuring himself in the build-up to the Tigers’ opener – looked ripe for the taking for much of the first half when they were bypassed in midfield and looked hesitant at the back.
After his close-range opener, Bowen showed terrific persistence to almost set up a tap-in for Chris Martin, only for Ryan Leonard to clear.
Millwall hung on in there and got their reward and despite Pugh’s timely strike before the break, they pressed strongly on the restart.
Only a fine reaction save from David Marshall kept out Tunnicliffe’s goalbound effort before Hull regrouped.
Hull went close in the final quarter of the contest with Grosicki’s low shot shuddering the base of the post and rebounding off the back of Archer before Bowen curled just wide – and then had a key say at the other end.
Hull City: Marshall; Kane, Burke, De Wijs, Lichaj; Henriksen, Irvine; Bowen, Pugh (Dicko 61), Grosicki (Milinkovic 89); C Martin (Ridgewell 79). Substitutes unused: Long, Evandro, McKenzie, Sheaf.
Millwall: Archer; Leonard, Hutchinson, Cooper, M Wallace (Morison 13); Ferguson, Thompson (Elliott 78), Tunnicliffe, Marshal (O’Brien 70); J Wallace; Gregory. Substitutes unused: D Martin, Williams, Onyedinma, Pearce.
Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).