Having shown their character at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, Hull City’s next challenge is to produce some consistency and Callum Elder knows that applies to him as much as anyone.
The left-back was delighted with the Tigers’ response after manager Grant McCann threw down the gauntlet in midweek, but wants them to follow it up at home to Derby County today.
It’s so key in this league that if you can gather a run of wins together you can rocket your position up the league.Callum Elder
The last round of matches highlighted what an unpredictable division the Championship is. Eight of the current top 10 dropped points in midweek, with 10-man Hull producing an excellent performance to beat Forest.
It answered McCann’s demand for a response to back-to-back defeats against Huddersfield Town and Queens Park Rangers. Now Hull have the chance to record consecutive league victories for the first time under him.
“It was a big point that he (McCann) put across that we needed a positive reaction, we needed to be playing our normal high-pressing game, influencing the opposition team in high areas and we really did that at Nottingham Forest,” commented Australian defender Elder.
“We were brave on the ball, we played at a tempo, we pressed them in high areas and I really thought we deserved our win.”
Circumstances conspired to make Wednesday’s game an even bigger test than McCann had anticipated, making their performance all the more satisfying.
Hull took a 2-0 lead through Josh Magennis and Jarrod Bowen, but Matty Cash pulled a goal back four minutes later and when Magennis was sent off for a reckless tackle on Ben Watson, his side had nearly half-an-hour to hold their lead, which they did.
“It was a testament to the character we showed,” reflected Elder. “We were very resilient in the second half. We went 2-0 up and I don’t even think we put our foot on the gas.
“It was a great run by the lad (Cash) and a great goal and we had to respond to that but we didn’t get our heads down. We went again, and we went again after the red card and that’s why I think it was thoroughly deserved – we never got our heads down, we just kept going throughout the game.
“We stayed compact, we were committed to the cause and I really thought we deserved the three points.
“It was great to hear the fans cheers us off at the end.”
Many felt it was Hull’s best performance under McCann, who took over in the summer.
With tickets at half price, the Tigers are expecting a crowd of more than 15,000 today and Elder knows how important it is for them to respond again.
“It’s so key in this league that if you can gather a run of wins together you can rocket your position up the league,” he said. “We won’t get ahead of ourselves, there’s going to be a big crowd against Derby and we’ll hopefully put in another good performance.”
The same applies equally to Elder, whose career in East Yorkshire is yet to properly get going since his summer move from Leicester City. Injuries have restricted him to just three starts and denied him the possibility of a Socceroos debut in the last international break. But having started the last two matches since recovering from a calf injury, the 24-year-old is keen to go on a run of his own.
“I’ve got really high standards and I was back in training on Friday getting ready for the game against Derby because I want to build on this,” said Elder.
“We as a team want to build on this and we’re really focused moving forward because it’s an important block of games and whilst it’s a good win we need to keep going.
“I need to repay the manager for putting me in when I have been available. I’m really enjoying working with him and his staff and long may that continue.”
This is Elder’s second time playing under McCann, having been on loan at Peterborough United in late 2015, and he thinks the manager’s mindset fits his attacking style of play.
“When I worked with him at Peterborough I was a lot younger but I really enjoyed it,” he said. “He’s really positive, he always wants to get the best out of his players and the team collectively.
“The manager wants us to be a threat on the counter, he wants us to influence opposition teams in wide areas and I want to contribute to that. I want to be an attacking threat for this team.”
McCann will have to decide between summer signing Tom Eaves or Norbert Balogh, who made his debut from the bench on Wednesday, at centre-forward with Magennis handed a four-match ban for his second dismissal this season.