Blues showed the best and the worst of themselves as they were beaten 3-2 by Hull City on Saturday afternoon.
Poor defending saw Lee Clark’s side fall three goals behind within the first 32 minutes. And to compound matters two of those strikes came from ex-Blues forward Sone Aluko.
But Blues showed real spirit and determination to battle their way back into the contest courtesy of goals from Ravel Morrison and Marlon King. But despite dominating the second half, the home side were unable to find that elusive but deserved third goal.
Clark named the same starting XI that he went with in the away draw against Blackburn last weekend.
The opening minutes saw little action of note from either side.
That was until the sixth minute when former Blues forward Sone Aluko almost gave Hull the lead.
Robert Koren threaded a clever pass in between the Blues defence to Aluko, who had evaded the offside trap. But with just Jack Butland to beat, the Hull man saw his effort stopped by the Blues stopper’s trailing foot.
Blues’ first real sight on goal arrived after 13 minutes, when Wade Elliott saw his shot from the edge of the area deflected behind for a corner.
After Clark’s men failed to take advantage of the dead ball, Hull broke immediately down the other end of the pitch and were rewarded with the opening goal of the game.
Once again it was the combination of Koren and Aluko that undid the Blues back four. Koren’s ball found Aluko and the striker showed a cool head to round Butland and slide the ball into the back of an empty net. It was to Aluko’s credit that he didn’t celebrate in front of the Blues fans in The Tilton.
With Blues pushing forward in search of an equaliser they were hit on the counter-attack after 26 minutes as Aluko scored his own and his side’s second goal of the game.
Wade Elliott lost the ball in the centre of the park to Koren. Koren’s pass found Simpson, who then released Aluko. But this time instead of attempting to round Butland, Aluko let go with a first time shot that flew past Butland.
Minutes later Blues had half a chance to get back into the game when Nikola Zigic found himself free in the Hull box, but the Serb’s touch let him down and the ball was smothered by Hull keeper Ben Amos.
On 32 minutes disaster struck for Blues as they fell 3-0 behind. Hull sent in a corner and James Chester found space before meeting the ball with a firm header that beat Butland.
Blues were given a glimmer of hope on 38 minutes with an excellently taken goal from Ravel Morrison. Spector crossed the ball, Zigic headed it down and Morrison unleashed a terrific volley that left Amos with no chance.
Buoyed by their goal, Blues seemed to find an extra spring in their step and started pinning Hull back into their own area.
They had a really decent shout for a penalty after Abdoulaye Faye appeared to handle the ball, but referee Mick Russell refused to be swayed by the appeals of the home players or crowd.
Right on the strike of half-time Morrison attempted another volley from outside the box but this time it flew a yard over the bar.
Half-time: Blues1 Hull 3
Blues made the perfect start to the second half as they pulled one back just seconds after the restart.
The dangerous Zigic headed the ball down for King and with Amos wrong-footed King squeezed a low shot past him and into the net.
Blues were really in the ascendancy, but against the run of play Hull broke and Stephen Quinn fired just wide of Butland’s post.
The first substitution of the game was made just after the hour mark by Steve Bruce as he sent David Meyler on for Seyi Olofinjana. Clark then made his first change when Nathan Redmond replaced Wade Elliott.
The game was becoming a real end-to-end contest with Blues looking the more likely side to score next.
With five minutes of the normal time remaining youngster Mitch Hancox became Blues’ second substitute after replacing David Murphy.
With the end of the match approaching fast, Blues were looking to throw players forward at every opportunity. Unfortunately they had left themselves too much to do and suffered another slim defeat on home soil
Full time: Blues 2 Hull 3
Blues: Jack Butland, Jonathan Spector, Steven Caldwell, Paul Robinson, David Murphy (Mitch Hancox, 85), Chris Burke, Hayden Mullins, Ravel Morrison, Wade Elliott (Nathan Redmond, 65), Nikola Zigic, Marlon King.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Pablo Ibanez, Papa Bouba Diop, Darren Ambrose, Peter Lovenkrands.
Bookings: Zigic (58)
Goals: Morrison (38), King (46).
Hull: Ben Amos, Liam Rosenior (Robbie Brady, 70), James Chester, Robert Koren, Jay Simpson (Aaron McLean, 76), Seyi Olofinjana (David Meyler, 63), Abdoulaye Faye, Sone Aluko, Ahmed Elmohamady, Alex Bruce, Stephen Quinn.
Subs from: Eldin Jakupovic, Paul McKenna, Corry Evans, Nick Proschwitz.
Bookings: bDavid Meyler (94)
Goals: Aluko (14, 26), Chester (32).
Referee: Mick Russell.
Attendance: 17, 363 (1,244 Hull fans)