Southampton v Hull City: Defender and goal hero Jacob Greaves on Tigers having 'a point to prove' against Championship top-two candidates Saints

IN FOOTBALL, nothing quite beats the shared sense of elation among a team and its supporters which comes by virtue of a stoppage-time victory on the road.

Just ask Hull City goal hero Jacob Greaves after some dramatic events at Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town on Saturday, with the defender marking his 200th career appearance with a rare brace of goals, including a 94th-minute winner.

On the flip side of the coin, Greaves knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end of such an episode.

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At the time, the pain is acute. It is also filed away for future reference.

Hull City's Jacob Greaves celebrates his late winner at Huddersfield Town. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.Hull City's Jacob Greaves celebrates his late winner at Huddersfield Town. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Hull City's Jacob Greaves celebrates his late winner at Huddersfield Town. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Which brings us to the Tigers’ next opponents, Southampton.

In the reverse fixture in East Yorkshire back in October, Saints won 2-1, thanks to a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time from substitute Ryan Fraser.

It was hard on Hull, who lost on home soil in the league for the first time in 10 matches in the process, with Fraser’s goal being the precursor to wild scenes of celebration among Saints travelling contingent - the strike arriving close to where they were housed in the MKM Stadium.

The Tigers have considerable incentive ahead of the return.

Those aforesaid autumnal events are part of it, but securing a marquee victory which would move City into the play-off positions should supersede it.

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When it comes to making a Championship statement, fortunately Hull certainly have positive form in that regard in the recent past.

Back in early September, they became the first side to beat league leaders Leicester City in 2023-24 - in their own back yard, to boot - after the Foxes had won their opening six fixtures in league and cup at the start of the campaign.

On whether that can inspire City ahead of their latest mission, Greaves said: "Yes, 100 per cent.

"We've had some good away days this season with two or three wins in a row away from home (now) which is class really.

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"Southampton will be a different test. I watched them the other night against WBA and they are a good team, but ultimately we want to go and test ourselves against the best.

"At our place, we had a sucker punch and that was so disappointing because we felt like we went toe to toe with them and deserved a point against them.

"But it wasn't to be, so we've got a little bit of a point to prove against them."

Southampton, along Leicester, Leeds United and Ipswich Town may have made it a four-horse race amid a compelling battle for automatic promotion, but the Championship’s reputation for still being unpredictable still rings true.

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It was seen as recently as Saturday. Leicester lost for the second time this season to a mid-table Middlesbrough side who have picked up just two points from 12 against the division’s bottom three so far this term, conversely.

Despite losing for the first time in 25 matches in all competitions in their reverse at Bristol City seven days ago, Saints’ form by the Solent remains formidable. As ever in the second tier, a caveat is not too far away.

Russell Martin’s side have won 12 of their last 13 fixtures at St Mary’s in all competitions in an unbeaten sequence stretching back to September 19.

The only side to take anything away since then? Step forward the team who prop up the table by a distance in Rotherham United. In the Championship, strange things happen.

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Greaves continued: "In the camp, we probably don't see it as an upset (to beat Southampton). We want to test ourselves against the top (teams).

"I know how it looks like from the outside. They've come down from the Premier League and have got a lot of quality players, but that's what you want to test yourself against.

"They have got some unbelievable players going forward, but I think we've got some very good players too and it's going to be a great match-up.

"It's one I'm absolutely buzzing for. I've got to get those two goals out of my head and focus on the big game at St Mary's."

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In terms of individual match-winners, City's options remain as well stocked as any at this level.

But for all successful teams, winning in different ways has to be another string to your bow. Especially at this stage of proceedings.

City weren't at their flowing best at Huddersfield, yet managed to find a way. In terms of providing a confidence rush, it should be significant.

Hull have been handed a welcome boost ahead of the trip to Hampshire with the news that key midfielder Jean Michael Seri is back in the fray.

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The Ivory Coast star returned to England on Monday following his African Cup of Nations exploits with Les Elephants, who triumphed in the final.

Seri has missed City's last nine games and his arrival could be timely with City sweating over the fitness of Tyler Morton (ankle).