There were a vital 3 points for Hull City this afternoon with a 2-0 victory over West Brom. Goals from Liam Rosenior and Shane Long ensured The Tigers bounced back from last week’s defeat to Manchester City in exactly the right way.
It was West Brom who had started the brightest with Stephane Sessegnon seeing a lot of the ball early on and it was the former Sunderland man who had the first shot of the game but his hit from distance didn’t trouble Alan McGregor. For The Tigers, a change in shape had seen Sone Aluko replace Maynor Figueroa in the starting line-up and it was Aluko alongside Jake Livermore who led the early charges from the City midfield. Good work from Livermore won a corner for the home side and after a couple of mishit clearances, Curtis Davies saw his goalbound shot blocked and cleared by Youssoff Mulumbu.
The news from earlier in the week that the FA had been advised to reject Assem Allam’s name change application had been met with joy by many supporters and chants of “We’re Keeping Our Name” rang around the ground throughout the early part of the game.
Graham Dorrans was the first to force a save in the game, with McGregor palming away a stinging shot from distance. But the best chance of the game fell to David Meyler on 27 minutes; Gareth McAuley gave away a cheap corner and from Tom Huddlestone’s delivery, the Irish international ghosted in at the far post but could only head past the post with the goal beckoning. The miss was met with cheers from the West Brom fans who had brought a large number of Spanish flags with them in support for manager Pepe Mel, but unfortunately for the Baggies, there was to be no ‘boing boinging’ when after half an hour, referee Chris Foy awarded The Tigers a penalty. Former Baggie Shane Long looked to be felled by Craig Dawson but quickly got to his feet, play continued for a few seconds before Foy blew his whistle and pointed to the spot much to the anger of the Albion players and fans alike.
Nikica Jelavic stepped up to take the penalty, but saw his low shot fantastically saved by England international Ben Foster, however, Liam Rosenior came steaming onto the rebound to head the ball home to open the scoring. It was Rosenior’s first goal for the Tigers in over 130 appearances so perhaps West Brom thought it wasn’t to be their day. If they weren’t thinking it then, they definitely were just six minutes later when the Tigers doubled the advantage. Livermore picked up on a half cleared corner and crossed back into the box, Davies flicked on and Long was there to slot home from six yards. The striker signed from West Brom in January for £6.5million didn’t celebrate in front of his former supporters but the home fans were delighted.
The second half started slowly with Hull happy to try and keep possession whilst the visitors tried frantically to find a way into the game. Jelavic sent a volley into the side netting before Thievy Bifouma saw a header deflected wider for West Brom. Anichebe tested McGregor for a second time and Sessegnon had another shot from distance blocked.
It was to be Long who went closest to adding to the scoreline, after picking up the ball around 25 yards out, the Republic of Ireland international cut inside and hit a thunderous curling shot that moved away from Ben Foster and thumped against the far post with the keeper beaten all ends up.
There were precious little chances in the remainder of the game as West Brom looked devoid of ideas and Steve Bruce’s side were happy to see the game out. Substitute Yannick Sagbo had appeals for a penalty waved away at one end whilst West Brom’s James Morrison also had appeals of his own ignored by Chris Foy. A flurry of substitutions had earlier taken the life out of the game as Pepe Mel tried to add a new dimension to his attack with the introductions of Scott Sinclair, Saido Berahino and Matej Vydra whilst Stephen Quinn, Robert Koren and Sagbo came on for The Tigers.
Chris Foy’s whistle brought the game to a close and ensured that Hull moved to 8 points clear of the relegation zone with just 8 games remaining. Steve Bruce remarked after the game “I always said ten wins would be enough and now other teams have to win 3 or 4 games to catch us up”. After a brief interruption to watch the replay of Wayne Rooney’s goal for Manchester United that was being shown on the television in the media suite, Bruce went onto say “We didn't play well today but there was a resilience and attitude for everyone to see” whilst also saying that the club didn’t think an injury Shane Long picked up was too serious.
The Tigers Premier League survival is within touching distance and with the partnership of Long and Jelavic beginning to really gel and cause defences problems, survival should be confirmed sooner rather than later.