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Match Report

 

Posted Thu 03 Mar 16 at 21:50 PM

Report: Blues 1 Hull City 0

Jon Toral’s seventh goal of the season secured a terrific three points for Blues against title-chasing Hull City at St. Andrew’s.

The Spaniard produced a sublime piece of skill on the edge of the area and then fired in a shot that took a deflection off former Blues skipper Curtis Davies before it nestled nicely into the bottom corner of the visitors’ net.

Hull came into the game needing only a point to return to the top of the Championship table and will go away thinking they probably deserved at least a draw.

Steve Bruce’s charges were twice denied by the woodwork, as well as numerous top-notch saves from Tomasz Kuszczak.

But Blues showed tremendous battling spirit, putting their bodies on the line time and time again, and deserved any luck that went their way.

Gary Rowett’s side also had their own chances to add to their lead in a thrill-a-minute contest.

Rowett made two changes to the side that lost at QPR with Paul Caddis and Toral recalled in favour of Ryan Shotton and Diego Fabbrini.

The visitors were first to threaten inside the opening two minutes, Robert Snodgrass pulling the ball back from the left byline for the onrushing Moses Odubajo, the Hull full-back volleying over from a narrow angle.

David Cotterill won the home side a corner on six minutes, the winger taking the resultant set-piece himself, an in-swinger which found the head of Paul Robinson but the defender couldn’t keep his effort down.

Snodgrass appealed in vein after tumbling over on the edge of the area under pressure from Jonathan Grounds but the referee was unmoved, allowing Blues to break quickly to the opposite end. 

Clayton Donaldson looked to get away from Michael Dawson just inside the area but the Hull captain slid in to divert the striker’s effort wide.

The hosts were not to be denied though and went ahead on 14 minutes.

Toral pulled off a delightful swivel turn just outside the area to create some space for a shooting chance, his low drive taking a deflection off ex-St. Andrew's man Davies and beating the despairing dive of Allan McGregor. 

It was the first goal conceded by Hull in 477 minutes in all competitions, but served to spark the visitors back into life as Bruce’s side twice hit the woodwork in the space of four minutes.

Jake Livermore first saw his 25-yard drive crash back off Kuszczak’s right-hand post and soon afterwards Michael Dawson’s close-range header from Snodgrass’s free-kick clipped the crossbar.

The action continued to switch from one end to the other. Donaldson, facing the club where he started his career, was again denied by a last-ditch challenge, this time by Tom Huddlestone, having been teed up by Toral.

Hull’s Sam Clucas should have done better when the ball broke to him inside the area but his tame effort bounced harmlessly into the arms of Kuszczak.

And then came a moment that could have lived long in St. Andrew’s folklore, had the ball found the back of the net.

There looked to be little danger as Gleeson’s chipped cross drifted behind Donaldson but the big striker proceeded to pull off the most spectacular of overhead-kicks. Sadly, the fingertips of McGregor turned the ball over the bar.

Blues went close again on 36 minutes as Cotterill sent a dangerous low cross into the box from the right and Toral’s diving header veered narrowly wide.

Rowett’s men were looking lively going forward, with Caddis playing a neat one-two with Toral on the edge of the Hull area and laying the ball into the path of Jacques Maghoma. Unfortunately the Congo international got his shot all wrong and the ball flew well over.

The visitors then had two late first-half efforts, Livermore seeing a header float just over after Toral’s clearance cannoned back off him, and then Mo Diame curling an effort just over after he’d turned Robinson inside the area.

In contrast to the hectic first period, there were few clear-cut chances of note during the opening 15 minutes of the second-half.

Robinson produced a well-timed block to deny Hull top scorer Abel Hernandez a sight of goal but the Blues man was turned soon afterwards by Adama Diomande, the substitute firing his shot high and wide.

The Club Captain continued to be in the thick of the action, getting in the way of Hernandez’s shot, the visitors appealing for handball but seeing their protestations fall on deaf ears.

Blues created their first dangerous attacking moment of the second-half on 71 minutes as Maikel Kieftenbeld’s driving run took him the edge of the Hull area.

The Dutchman’s lay-off frustratingly landed behind Cotterill but the winger still got in a shot but his low effort was always heading wide.

Kuszczak then earned his corn with three important saves in quick succession, the Blues keeper first pulling off an instinctive save with his legs to keep out Livermore’s low drive.

Hull’s momentum was maintained with Snodgrass’s 20-yard effort parried away by Kuszczak and the Pole was up sharply to also block Clucas’s follow-up effort. 

David Davis was introduced from the bench, in place of Cotterill, to try and relieve some of the Hull pressure and quickly made a difference.

The next Blues attack saw the ball reach Maghoma and his shot took a deflection off Dawson, but unbelievably a goal kick was awarded.  

Morrison’s superb sliding challenge diverted Clucas’s shot over the bar as Hull’s efforts continued to be repelled by a battling Blues backline.

Snodgrass played a clever one-two with Livermore but sent his curling shot straight down the throat of Kuszczak.

Late on for Blues, Toral twisted and turned on the left side the area but his tired effort was easily grasped by McGregor.

And though Hull put Blues under intense pressure at the end, it was home sub Davis that came closest to adding the game’s second goal with a 20-yard shot that went just wide.

This was a brilliant victory for Blues, thoroughly enjoyed by a noisy home crowd, and more importantly moved Rowett’s side back to within a point of the play-off positions.

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