THE one saving grace for Hull City ahead of last weekend was that all three of their victories had come against teams also locked in the fight for survival at the foot of the Championship.
Clashes with Ipswich Town, Bolton Wanderers and Rotherham United were the proverbial “six-pointers” that, come the end of the season, can often decide a club’s fate.
City had also come agonisingly close to beating struggling Preston North End, a stoppage-time equaliser from Louis Moult rescuing a barely-deserved point for the Lancashire club at the KCOM Stadium.
Losing badly to Reading in September was admittedly a blow. But, otherwise, Nigel Adkins could at least be satisfied with his side’s form against those clubs also in relegation trouble. Then came Saturday and a stirring victory over West Bromwich Albion that could prove to be a game-changer, in that if City can beat a team dripping with Premier League talent then they should fear no-one.
Central to that triumph over the Baggies was a disciplined performance that saw the back four dig deep and the midfield exert such a control that former Tiger Jake Livermore was anonymous on his return to the East Riding.
“You look at young Dan Batty in the middle of the pitch,” said Adkins, when asked about a run of four games that have brought improved performances since City hit the bottom of the table on October 6.
“He can play. He complemented ever so well Jackson Irvine, who was outstanding in the first half (against Albion). The work-rate with him, Markus Henriksen and Batty meant we had a real potent three in there.
“Those two (Irvine and Henriksen) can get themselves forward and ‘Batts’ holds. He pings it all over the pitch, as he can. He can really play.”
You look at young Dan Batty in the middle of the pitch. He can play.Nigel Adkins