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Verdict: Hull City 0 Cardiff City 2 - Bluebirds have set example to Tigers

Battle: Will Keane, of Hull City, tackles Joe Ralls, of Cardiff City. Picture: James Hardisty
Battle: Will Keane, of Hull City, tackles Joe Ralls, of Cardiff City. Picture: James Hardisty
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cARDIFF City could hopefully prove to be a glimpse of the future for Hull City followers.

Big city, big support and with an owner in Vincent Tan who has been under fire from Bluebirds fans in the past as much as the Allams have been at Hull.

Hull City head coach Nigel Adkins shares a joke with Cardiff manager Neil Warnock (Picture: James Hardisty)

Hull City head coach Nigel Adkins shares a joke with Cardiff manager Neil Warnock (Picture: James Hardisty)

Enter Neil Warnock and now the Welsh club are a final match victory away from returning to the Premier League.

Togetherness has been a big factor in the rise of Cardiff, believes Nigel Adkins, who aims to replicate their feat, if not playing style, next season.

Adkins has completed one mission, securing Championship safety for a club whose talent pool should never have seen them in danger of a second successive relegation like they were under previous manager Leonid Slutsky.

Now Adkins aims to take the Tigers back up at the second attempt, although he admits budgets will be cut after their first season back in the second tier.

There’s a lot of players in there who I want to be here next season. Whether that can happen or not, I don’t know.

Nigel Adkins

Adkins was undone on Saturday by one of his former players at Reading in Sean Morrison, who epitomises the no-nonsense approach of any side under Warnock, going for a record eighth managerial promotion.

The Cardiff captain headed them into a first-half lead from a corner and they never remotely looked like surrendering it as Hull failed to put their passing game together.

That could have been down to the fact that Cardiff had so much at stake, having seen Fulham overhaul them for the second automatic promotion spot on Friday night, and with Hull having achieved Championship safety the previous Saturday.

The visitors sealed the points after the break when Hull were pressing for an equaliser.

Cardiff defeated Hull to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive (Picture: James Hardisty)

Cardiff defeated Hull to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive (Picture: James Hardisty)

Jon Toral’s corner was knocked back out to him but the substitute’s attempt to return the ball was charged down, allowing Nathaniel Mendez-Laing to burst up the left channel before looking up to see support arriving quicker than Tigers defenders.

Who should be there but Morrison, who collected the chipped pass, cut inside and showed the calm finish of a striker rather than a burly centre-back to make it 2-0 and game over in the 80th minute.

It gave Warnock his first win in Hull in nine attempts, the last time he savoured victory in the East Riding being 12 years ago with his beloved Sheffield United.

Warnock asserts that taking Cardiff up will be at least on a par with leading the Blades up to the Premier League in 2006.

They entertain Reading on Sunday while Brentford, whose play-off hopes have been scuppered, is the destination for Hull before a five-day trip to Kenya ends the campaign.

Then the real work begins for Adkins, who took charge in early December.

He has, from those who started on Saturday, Rangers-linked goalkeeper Allan McGregor, Ola Aina, David Meyler, Harry Wilson and Michael Dawson not under contract when the curtain falls.

So how many does he think will still be at the KCom Stadium?

“Time’s going to tell. I don’t know is the honest answer,” said Adkins, who secured nine wins, allied to eight draws, from 28 games in charge.

“There’s a lot of players in there who I want to be here next season. Whether that can happen or not, I don’t know.

“We’re having conversations, trying to keep people with us at the football club, bringing players in.

“We’ve got another game at the weekend and I’ll give players the opportunity but I’ve a mindset of winning games and playing in a way that’s good for people to watch. That wasn’t the case with this game. We were nowhere near.”

Dawson hinted in his captain’s column that this could well be his last home game and Adkins said: “Time is going to tell on that. I think everyone knows my views on Michael. I can’t speak highly enough of him but we’re going to know more in the summer with a lot of players.”

Of the Bluebirds setting a possible blueprint, Adkins continued: “Neil came in last year in a similar situation to this. They recruited well, they’ve got a way of playing and there’s togetherness.

“You saw their supporters, they were right behind the players. A couple of years ago they were right against the owners so maybe there’s a situation where there’s give and take on both sides.

“If you’ve got that togetherness, you might not have to be the best players but you’ve got a chance.

“If we can give ourselves an opportunity next season, who knows what might happen?”

Scottish full-back Stephen Kingsley asserted there had been no complacency in the Hull camp.

“We had a point to prove. Whether it be players who are out of contract or players who needed to impress the manager, we had a reason to perform. Although the pressure was off, we still needed to put in a performance.”

Hull City: McGregor, Aina, Dawson, MacDonald (Mazuch 14), Kingsley; Wilson, Henriksen, Meyler, Grosicki (Toral 73); Campbell, Keane (Bowen 66). Unused substitutes: Marshall, Irvine, Dicko, Tomori.

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Paterson, Gunnarsson (Grujic 10; Bryson 46), Ralls; Mendez-Laing, Zohore (Madine 89), Hoilett. Unused substitutes: Murphy, Manga, Pilkington, J Ward.

Referee: A Davies (Hampshire).