Che Adams’ hat-trick was enough to keep Blues’ unbeaten home record in tact ahead of the international break.
An entertaining game was low on quality but high on defensive mishaps, something Hull could attest to as hospital passes from Tommy Elphick and Jordy de Wijs led to two Adams goals.
Hull moved to 4-4-2 after the break and got their reward for a bolder approach as Frazier Campbell was first to a Kamil Grosicki cross and later a loose ball to fire home. Kamil Grosicki then thought he had won the headlines with a tremendous free-kick from 25 yards.
However, with eight minutes to go, Hull imploded once more, this time Jackson Irvine at fault as his header ended up falling to Che Adams six yards from goal. He scored, and Blues escaped with a point.
Garry Monk was forced into a change for this one with Gary Gardner suspended. Charlie Lakin was given the nod, a huge chance for the youngster to impress ahead of the Aston Villa tie in two weeks. Omar Bogle returned to a squad which was otherwise unchanged.
Having won two on the bounce, Nigel Adkins decided to stick with the same XI meaning centre-back Reece Burke started at right-back while Frazier Campbell played alone up front. Ondrej Mazuch returned to the squad for The Tigers.
Firstly, the minute’s silence which was unfortunately ruined by some fans walking into the ground singing and shouting, unaware of the silence surrounding them. The silence was then broken up by the round of applause that followed The Last Post, the Remembrance Day composition that was blown loudly on either a faulty horn or by somebody who wasn’t an expert playing it. However, it shouldn’t be lost that 99% of the crowd observed it immaculately, as should be the case.
Blues began the game in typical fashion, getting the ball forward early to Jutkiewicz and playing. However, Jota had the only notable chance in the opening 15 minutes, scuffing wide after driving through the centre. In fact, Blues were making some questionable decisions in the opening stages, playing passes into dangerous areas and causing their own problems. Thankfully, Hull were pretty useless themselves.
Tommy Elphick wasn’t having his greatest game and the on-loan Villa defender followed up an early booking with the error that led to the first goal. A simple pass-back to David Marshall was far too short and the ex-Cardiff City keeper couldn’t move quickly enough to deny Che Adams who rounded him and knocked the ball into an empty net.
Adams’ celebration ensured there was a delay to kick-off (he broke the corner stick) and during that time, Jota was forced off with an injury giving Viv Solomon-Otabor a rare chance to impress. The delay hindered Blues, Jarrod Bowen forcing Lee Camp into a stop before Kamil Grosicki and Markus Henriksen missed the target.
Blues did come close when Harlee Dean’s cross found Jutkiewicz at the back post. He couldn’t find the net but his striker partner could on the stroke of half-time. Jordy de Wijs’ hospital pass found Adams and the Blues striker immediately ran at Tommy Elphick. Elphick decided not to engage and Adams made his way to the edge of the area and slot the ball into the near post.
Blues 2; Hull 0. A fine half.
Hull City made a change at the half-time, bringing on Chris Martin in place of Daniel Batty, a move that saw Hull move from a 4-1-4-1 to a 4-4-2. It had a huge effect, though only after Kieftenbeld fired over from the edge of the area.
Five minutes into the second half, Hull got back into the game. There was miscommunication in the middle of the park and it left Colin having to leave his position to challenge Chris Martin. He won the header but Campbell was quick to find Grosicki out wide, the Polish international’s touch immaculate the cross teasing. Morrison couldn’t get back to the near post in time and Campbell escaped Dean to fire home from close range.
Campbell was making the most of the space afforded to him by Martin and after striking one effort wide, he scored his second. Grosicki was too sharp for Solomon-Otabor and his low effort was deflected into the path of Bowen by Jutkiewicz and the Hull winger’s shot hit Camp and fell to Campbell who prodded home.
The equaliser sparked Blues into a little bit of life, Solomon-Otabor’s shot deflected wide and the resulting corner saw Mahoney’s wicked delivery headed towards goal by Jutkiewicz, Marshall doing well to palm the effort against the post.
You’d have thought that Grosicki would be stopped at every possible opportunity after his impact for the first two goals but Kieftenbeld and Craig Gardner, on as a substitute, dived in and Reece Burke was left on the ground. Grosicki stepped up from 25 yards and hit a fine free-kick to put Hull into the lead.
Thankfully for Blues, Hull seemed destined to give Che Adams as many opportunities as possible. And when Morrison attacked Mahoney’s free-kick, Jackson Irvine ducked and headed the ball back across goal into the path of Adams six yards from goal. A first league hat-trick for the Blues striker who performed out of his skin. The only shame was that it didn’t secure a Blues victory.
Once again, we are left praising the determination and fight of Garry Monk’s Blues.
Blues were a disaster in the second half. We lost a two-goal lead and the moment Kamil Grosicki stepped up for a free-kick 25 yards out, you just knew we were going behind. Hull don’t have much, but in the Polish international, they have the kind of star quality that Blues were lacking on the day.
The midfield was the obvious talking point, Maikel Kieftenbeld running alongside three midfielders that had started a dozen Championship games between them for around half an hour.
Gary Gardner was a huge loss, a player so capable of picking up second balls in midfield and distributing the ball into the right areas. In the first half it didn’t seem so bad with Frazier Campbell alone in attack but Chris Martin’s arrival meant both Michael Morrison and Harlee Dean were occupied and Blues didn’t react quick enough. Kamil Grosicki got into the game and Blues were left on the back foot.
But Gardner wasn’t the only loss. Jota and Jacques Maghoma are often seen as different players but they do a similar job for the team, capable of dragging us up the field, drawing fouls and keeping hold of possession.
It’s not an indictment of Charlie Lakin, Connor Mahoney or Viv Solomon-Otabor as individuals but the difficulties that come with three of them playing at the same time, not too dissimilar to when 9-11 changes are made to a side in the first round of the League Cup.
Lakin is a talented boy but one who is better with the ball than without it at the moment and with the style of Blues’ game, midfielders need to pick up second balls and move the ball quickly. It will come with games, but today he was not helped by the inexperience around him.
As for the wide men, Mahoney simply had a game to forget, struggling with the physicality of the game and giving Eric Lichaj his easiest afternoon of the season so far. As for Viv Solomon-Otabor, his rawness is evidenced by his ball control and decision making. Blues didn’t get him into the game, but he never looked like getting himself into either.
Solomon-Otabor suffered the embarrassment of being substituted after joining the fray as a substitute and was perhaps unfortunate that Connor Mahoney was Blues’ chief set-piece taker in the absence of Jota.
The changes worked, however, and the extra experience gave Blues a foothold in proceedings. It will be interesting to see what decisions Garry Monk makes for the Villa tie with Jacques Maghoma, Jota and Craig Gardner all likely to be fit and available.