Superb Hull City make Sheffield Wednesday look less than ordinary

DRY January is obviously not catching on in Hull.

A sober, abstentious time for many, the first month of the New Year is already turning into a time of plenty in East Yorkshire amid some Champagne football – with the excesses of the festive season extending into 2019.

The totting-up procedure is producing some high numbers for Hull City. Six league wins on the spin – only Leeds United have embarked on a longer winning sequence in the Championship in 2018-19 – a nine-match unbeaten run and bumper haul of 14 goals in four home games, including nine in two January appointments at the KCOM Stadium.

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Amid the here and now, there was a clear whiff of nostalgia about Saturday, too.

Hull's Fraizer Campbell celebrates scoring the third goal against Sheffield Wednesday. ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

These two sides famously traded punches in the Championship play-off final at Wembley in May, 2016, with songs from both sets of supporters alluding to that date.

For those in amber and black, the prospect of navigating a path back to the home of football via the end of season lottery is a very real one on this latest evidence.

Just four points separate Hull and sixth-placed Derby County, while Sheffield Wednesday’s own admittedly slim hopes of somehow gatecrashing the top-six scene took a mortal blow following some excruciating developments by the Humber.

Wednesday caretaker manager Steve Agnew may have had some rewarding times in Hull, but his face told a story early on Saturday evening.

Wednesday's George Boyd holds off Hull City's Todd Kane (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Deflated and clearly angered by the Owls’ pitiful performance, Agnew was asked whether Wednesday had suffered any fresh injuries ahead of tomorrow night’s FA Cup replay at Luton Town.

Agnew tersely answered that the visitors lacked the intensity to pick up any – and on Saturday’s damning evidence, Steve Bruce’s arrival at S6 cannot come fast enough.

The desire, direction, togetherness and quality exclusively came from those in home jerseys.

Energetic and resourceful in midfield, with devilment out wide and diligence in defence, Hull’s cocktail looks a potent one – and should this squad stick together and perhaps even be enhanced in numbers by the end of this month, then play-off participation is very much within their remit.

On another memorable afternoon on home soil for Hull, fresh from their 6-0 New Year’s Day dismantling of Bolton, defender Stephen Kingsley, part of a Tigers rearguard who secured their third successive league clean sheet, observed: “We were terrific from start to finish and, hopefully, we can continue that next week.

“The quality was brilliant and that kind of shows the level we are at.

“We have put ourselves in a great position and the mentality (issue) is huge now. We have had a great run of form and, after a little break in the FA Cup, we could have easily not been at the races, but the mentality was brilliant.

“Even when we were struggling earlier in the season, it was a case of being positive on the training ground and having belief in ourselves and that was the most important thing.

“When you are down there and you are not getting the confidence and you are not playing how you want to play, you must have the belief that things can change and turn around and they have and great credit must go to the gaffer (Nigel Adkins).”

The dreaded manager-of-the-month curse which afflicts many teams following recognition by their peers was emphatically dispelled by a Hull side who looked in the mood from the outset.

A fine early save at full-stretch from Keiren Westwood to turn away a silky strike from Kamil Grosicki hinted at a long day for Wednesday and so it proved.

Exactly a year earlier, the Owls travelled to bitter rivals Sheffield United and while their attacking efforts were virtually non-existent on that day, what could not be doubted was their application, work-rate and attitude.

Saturday’s efforts were far more reprehensible, with those 2,500 travelling Wednesdayites in attendance at the KCOM being significantly short-changed after witnessing a display which plumbed the depths with the Owls outclassed and guilty of losing their battles all over the pitch.

That it took Hull until the 45th minute to forge a breakthrough was the only surprising facet of a first-half in which Wednesday lacked wit, energy and belief.

With Grosicki at his impish best, Hull painted all the pictures, with Westwood producing a textbook block to deny Chris Martin before getting his angles right to block Markus Henriksen’s effort after more Grosicki elegance.

The Polish winger, fittingly, had the final say of the half when he set up Jarrod Bowen, whose unerring low finish provided deserved reward for another high-class first-half display from Hull.

It was the prelude to a second half which was as one-sided as it gets and one in which home supporters amused themselves with chants about Wembley among other things.

The fare on offer was highly watchable with a sublime pass from Grosicki being the precursor to a penalty award for Hull after the onrushing Westwood caught Martin.

Bowen coolly sent the Owls goalkeeper the wrong way to register his fifth goal in three matches and 13th strike of the season, with the Tigers in full party mode.

Substitute Fraizer Campbell deceived Tom Lees before powering home a third to crown a Hull display that bore the imprint of their 2015-16 promotion season.

When a certain Mr Bruce was at the helm.