Move over Superman, here’s Hull City’s Jarrod Bowen

AFTER the game, Jackson Irvine revealed that he would be donning a Batman outfit at Hull City’s forthcoming fancy dress Christmas party.

No stopping him: Jarrod Bowen.

No prizes for guessing what outfit Jarrod Bowen would be wearing at the soiree. A Superman costume.

Although, strictly speaking, the Tigers’ talisman – a bit of an unassuming Clark Kent type off the pitch, but positively deadly on it – does not need to display a red cape and distinctive Superman icon on a blue jersey to show off his powers.

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His 32nd and 33rd goals since last December, a staggering amount for someone not associated as a traditional ‘number nine’, gave Stoke cause to rue his on-pitch presence for the second time in 2019 – while underlining just what he provides to the amber and black cause and would-be suitors as well.

Essentially, that is two or three players in one. A wide-sided attacker capable of unhinging defenders and scoring all manner of eye-catching goals and one with the instincts of a predatory goal-poacher equally at home in a central role.

His quickfire brace alluded to just that and once again, beguiling Bowen had the KCOM Stadium in the palm of his hand.

Opposing defences need more than Kryptonite to stop him in East Yorkshire, where he has found the net on two occasions in a game eight times already in his career. He is not 23 until later this month.

His latest contribution was typically heralded by the Hull faithful, albeit with a caveat. Their second-half chant of ‘Don’t ever take my Bowen away’ came laden with worry, with the January transfer window swinging open its doors in just over three weeks.

Bowen has netted 15 goals comfortably before Christmas – and at this rate is on course to easily exceed last season’s total of 22. They are the sort of statistics that turn heads in Premier League boardrooms.

Publicly, everyone connected with Hull are determined to enjoy him for a good while yet. In reality, it is a case of enjoying him while they can.

As for his situation, Bowen exudes the air of someone who is the calmest person in the building. Just as he is similarly calm in the penalty area.

On the ongoing speculation regarding his team-mate, Irvine said: “It is not even a conversation with us.

“He is outside every day training and is a fantastic professional and just goes about his business.

“What he does, he is right up with the best I have played with, absolutely with the way he approaches the game.

“As long as he is here, he is a great asset for us and hopefully he stays as long as he can.

“He is so clinical and brilliant at key moments and so good at sniffing out chances for himself.

“He is always in the right place at the right time and it is not coincidence, but instinct. It is a fantastic asset for us to have.”

In contrast to Bowen, the striker lining up at the opposite end of the pitch had lost the knack of scoring, certainly at league level.

A £10m millstone had been a heavy weight around the neck of Stoke City’s Sam Vokes, but at the place where he made his debut for the Potters in February, the Welshman found succour.

His textbook early downward header following a juicy cross on the run from James McClean saw him find the net for the first time at league level this season and was the sort of goal that was his signature dish in happier days at former side Burnley.

After the lows of Barnsley, it represented a further character examination for Hull, but they gradually got back on message and when you have a Bowen in your ranks, you always have a chance.

Hull probed, with Kamil Grosicki’s rising strike turned away by Jack Butland, who then sharply turned away a low drive from Bowen after he finally announced himself at the party.

Stoke’s rearguard failed to convince and that was reinforced on the restart when the devastating Bowen quickly turned the game around.

His first was a beauty. The ball broke to him 25 yards out and his precision clean-as-a-whistle strike was unstoppable.

Then, he lurked around at the far post as all good ‘goal-hangers’ do to obligingly tuck away the rebound after Butland parried out Irvine’s header and that was pretty much that.

Hull City: Long; Lichaj, Burke, De Wijs, Elder; Batty, Lopes; Bowen, Irvine, Grosicki (Bowler 84); Eaves (Tafazolli 88). Unused substitutes: Ingram, Honeyman, Kingsley, Pennington, Lewis-Potter.

Stoke City: Butland; Edwards, Batth, Martins Indi, Ward; Ince (Powell 82), Clucas, Woods (Ndiaye 72), Allen, McClean (Gregory 62); Vokes. Unused substitutes: Federici, Shawcross, Diouf, Gregory, Cousins.

Referee: D Bond (Lancs).