HULL CITY manager Nigel Adkins has hailed the case for the defence after his resolute Tigers reinvigorated their Championship survival hopes with a hard-fought win over Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United on Friday night.
A 55th-minute strike from Nouha Dicko helped Hull record a much-needed first home league success since Adkins’s first game in charge on December 9, with the hosts holding a two-point buffer above the drop zone ahead of Tuesday night’s ‘six-pointer’ with fellow strugglers Barnsley.
A third successive clean sheet on home soil – and fourth in their last five Championship home matches – was another particular development about which Adkins was minded to enthuse.
It was an evening when captain Michael Dawson and Angus MacDonald and the whole back-four restricted the Blades’ dangerous duo of Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke to one meaningful chance.
He said: “There is a defensive resolve about us. We have got an understanding and an ethic to work very, very hard for each other. That is so, so important.
“You have also got to take your chances when they come along. I have said it all along that it has been our conversion rate that has let us down.
“We are doing all the right things as a team, but we have just had to put the ball in the back of the net more often.
“In the Sheffield United game we got that. It was an excellent finish from Nouha Dicko, but also a very good team performance.
“We have got a good resolve about us and that is important.
“The team are working extremely hard for each other and credit to the players for that.”
We are doing all the right things as a team, but we have just had to put the ball in the back of the net more often.Hull City boss, Nigel Adkins
Dicko may have assumed the status of match-winner following his key strike against Adkins’s former club, but the Tigers’ chief was keen to share out the attacking plaudits although he singled out the performance of Adama Diomande for praise.
The Norway international, handed his first league start since August, grasped his opportunity with both hands, with his pace and hunger troubling the Blades backline all game.
On the impact of Diomande, who went close to scoring in the second half, Adkins said: “I thought Dio had an excellent game.
“We knew the threat Sheffield United would pose down their right-hand side and we nullified that to great effect.
“A lot of that was down to the work-rate put in by Diomande.
“He had a great hour before Kammy (Grosicki) came on and grafted so hard for the team.
“Everyone has got to graft and that is what he was willing to do for the team.”