Keane Lewis-Potter injects new life into Hull City as Barnsley suffer at Oakwell

IN the week when Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead – was celebrated across the globe, one Yorkshire side administered the kiss of life to their season.

The other, after being briefly revived, possessed no pulse.

In the last Oakwell fixture between these two Yorkshire rivals in late November of 2019, Barnsley were the ones who were rehabilitated by virtue of a cherished win over Hull – which ended an 18-game winless run and served as a much-needed shot in the arm in regards to their survival quest.

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Nearly two years on and the reverse applied in this relegation ‘six-pointer’ between two sides down among the dead men.

Keane Lewis-Potter scores Hull City's second goal past Brad Collins. Picture Bruce Rollinson

City’s scorer on that autumnal day was Keane Lewis-Potter who came off the bench to net his first goal for his hometown club.

In the here and now, the Hullensian, despite being just 20, offers their best hope for the future. A dazzling show crowned by a late goal reinforced that fact and Grant McCann’s view that the club are lucky to have him.

Their ability to keep hold of him might well be tested in January if rumours are to be believed.

Lewis-Potter, who netted his first goal since scoring against another White Rose side in Sheffield United on September 18, said: “I don’t concentrate on that (speculation) right now and just concentrate on Hull and helping my boyhood club climb the table.

Cauley Woodrow's effort is blocked by Richie Smallwood. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“We have been harsh on ourselves, but this was a great performance. Our dressing room has got more than enough to start climbing the table.”

From a Hull perspective – and certainly if you cared to listen to McCann – this had been coming.

City may have headed into the game on the back of a five-match losing sequence, but the fact that four had arrived by just a single goal was perhaps telling as well. It suggested that this is a side who have definitely not thrown in the towel, despite their failings.

Hull have lacked many things this season, but they are a clearly a side playing for McCann. A side who may lack class – aside from the excellent Lewis-Potter and perhaps Jacob Greaves – but one who care, fight for each other, don’t feel sorry for themselves and roll up their sleeves.

It is the starting point for any successful relegation fight.

No-one could suggest that Barnsley’s players do not care, but on this particular day, they did not look battle-hardened and up for the scrap and lacked leadership and authority across the pitch on an afternoon when Jo Laumann’s quest to boost his own credentials for the full-time head coaching role failed miserably.

Aside from a bright opening spell and a brief stint in the second half when the commendable efforts of home fans in the Pontefract Road end roused them, it was distinctly unsatisfactory from those in red. By the final whistle, it was pitiful, with Barnsley producing a shambolic final 15 minutes after Hull’s killer second goal in particular.

One side looked a team and the other had gone to pieces.

Pulling no punches, Reds captain Cauley Woodrow commented: “We were really good for 15 minutes, but they got a foothold in the game and we were all over the place for the rest of the game with big spaces and big gaps.

“With the second goal they scored, I don’t remember us ever being so out of position. It was a bad day.”

The chasm between the sides was most glaringly obvious in the area where most games are won and lost in central midfield. Hull had two diligent, solid professionals who were prepared to get their hands dirty in Richie Smallwood and Greg Docherty, while in Claudio Gomes and Josh Benson, Barnsley had two players whose work without the ball in their defensive duties was reprehensible.

It allowed Hull to gain ownership in the middle. Further forward, George Honeyman popped up all over the place untracked and Lewis-Potter was a constant outlet down the left and gave the Reds’ defence – and Jasper Moon in particular – a torrid time.

Half-chances had been spurned by Docherty, Josh Magennis and Greaves before the opener that Hull had been hinting at arrived.

Brad Collins – who again deserved much better – showed fine reactions to prevent Moon from firing Magennis’s cross into his own net, only for the lurking Honeyman to gobble up the rebound and score Hull’s first goal on the road in 10-and-a-half hours.

Aside from a header over from Devante Cole and a shot from Callum Brittain which was beaten away by Nathan Baxter – preferred in goal to Matt Ingram and handed a league debut – Barnsley brought little to the table in a display which was far removed from the positivity against Derby.

Brittain had Barnsley’s best chance on the resumption, but most of the action was elsewhere with Collins brilliantly denying Docherty but being powerless to prevent Lewis-Potter’s calm second from Honeyman’s assist.

Substitute Ryan Longman struck the post before the end and Collins thwarted Smallwood as Hull, for the second successive time, signed off for an international break with a 2-0 victory over a Yorkshire rival. The trick is not to waste the good work again.