Hull City 2 Middlesbrough 0: City claim their first second-tier home win in 457 days against same opponents

Hull City man-of-the-match Di'Shon Bernard gets in front of a Middlesbrough opponent. Picture: PA.Hull City man-of-the-match Di'Shon Bernard gets in front of a Middlesbrough opponent. Picture: PA.
Hull City man-of-the-match Di'Shon Bernard gets in front of a Middlesbrough opponent. Picture: PA.
SOME 457 days after their previous home victory at Championship level, Hull City were affirded another - against the same opposition in Middlesbrough.

It’s been a tough and largely luckless start to the season for City. but fortune smiled upon them for once in a rain-lashed East Yorkshire and they certainly won’t be complaining.

It arrived nine minutes from time when Keane Lewis-Potter’s strike shuddered the post and then rebounded off the back of Joe Lumley into the net.

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A late second from substitute Mallik Wilks - who scored at the death on the previous occasion these sides met in July, 2020 on the date of City’s previous home triumph at this level against Teessiders - provided the sweetness.

Boro had the big chances in the second half, through James Tavernier and Andraz Sporar and missed them. When they did get through, they reckoned without the brilliance of Matt Ingram, who made a fabulous one-handed save to keep out Paddy McNair’s low drive.

Hull - with Di’Shon Bernard outstanding at the back - dug in and fought. In a season when lows have frequently arrived, but they have admirably not felt sorry for themselves, here was some overdue balm.

The fact that Hull made five changes and Boro made none suggested that one side were confident in their own skin and the other were struggling for form and had pressing issues.

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In the event, it was the hosts who looked the more coherent, certainly in terms of their opening, which reflected well upon Grant McCann after he made the decision to switch to a 3-1-4-2 system.

Tyler Smith and Tom Eaves - impressive from the bench in midweek - were handed first league starts of the season and Bernard, Josh Emmanuel and Richie Smallwood also returned to the starting line-up.

It was a notable occasion for Smallwood and after being handed the captain’s armband recently against former club Blackburn, he was also bestowed with that honour against another old employer and his boyhood side.

The statistic that Hull have failed to take the lead in a league fixture may have remained by the time that referee Andy Davies blew the whistle for half-time, but other than a breakthrough, there was plenty to enthuse about.

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Fielding a three-man backline, Hull looked secure enough, apart from a couple of brief moments and going forward, Eaves held the ball up well, Smith posed issues with his pace and Keane Lewis-Potter, operating as a left wing-back was a thorn at times for Boro and especially Marcus Tavernier.

The best moment for Hull - who lost Alfie Jones to injury ahead of the break - arrived early when Lewis-Potter tidily found the onrushing Bernard, who showed endeavour to power forward, with his shot beaten away by Joe Lumley.

A good tackle from Sol Bamba, fresh from midweek heroics, denied Eaves in the nick of time, with City giving Boro - and the watching Neil Warnock, who stood in the rain in the technical area - a bit to talk about.

Gradually, the Teessiders, backed by a big travelling support of 3,500, started to piece together a couple of semi-dangerous moments with Matt Ingram blocking Tavernier’s effort at his near post after a slick low cross from the overlapping Marc Bola.

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A piercing Tavernier pass then saw Sporar blaze over from a tight angle in a half in which Boro struggled to get danger man Matt Crooks into the game.

Warnock will have been wanting more on the restart, with McCann likely to have been a touch happier by first-half events.

Mistakes on a wet surface as the rain hammered down made for a scrappy start on the resumption - with the impression starting to grow that one error in the box by either side might just decide this game.

The first chance when it broke arrived to Boro, with the ball falling invitingly down the left channel for Bola, but Bernard - having a sound afternoon - did well to block his goalbound drive.

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Hull were then afforded a let-off after their guard dropped on the break with Duncan Watmore finding Tavernier, but his finish was high and wild when sent clear.

More wasteful finishing then came to the fore when Sporar was played in nicely by Crooks, but he guided his shot into the side-netting with plenty of the goal to aim at.

Seeking to change the flow of the game, Hull threw on Mallik Wilks, who scored a stoppage-time winner on the last time that these two sides met.

It was Eaves who had their first chance of the half, but his half-volley flew wide.

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The action was largely at the other end and when Boro finally got a worthy effort on target, they met without the excellence of Ingram, who made a fine one-handed save to divert McNair’s goalbound drive.

Given the fact that their goal was leading a charmed life yet still remaining intact, there was a growing feeling that luck may be favouring Hull for once.

That was reinforced with the game-breaking moment and after little fortune so far this season.

Salt was rubbed into the wounds of Boro when McNair fired home a free-kick, only for referee Davies to pull play back for an infringement. His follow-up, wth an air of inevitably, flew into the away end.

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Wilks struck a second on the break for Hull, whose long-suffering fans were finally singing in the rain.

A brief chorus of ‘Sacked in the morning’ arrived from some disgruntled Boro fans towards Neil Warnock. But he can hardly be blamed for missed chances.

Hull City: Ingram; Emmanuel, Greaves, A Jones (McLoughlin 42), Bernard; Cannon, Smallwood; Lewis-Potter, Moncur (Docherty 60), T Smith (Wilks 69); Eaves. Substitutes unused: Baxter, Longman, M Smith, Hinds.

Middlesbrough: Lumley; Peltier; Bamba, Fry (Lea-Siliki 79), Bola (Jones 85); Howson, McNair; Tavernier, Crooks, Watmore (Ikpeazu 85); Sporar. Substitutes unused: Daniels, Olusanya, Kokolo.

Referee: A Davies (Hants).

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