By William Young, To Hull and Back Podcast
It was a mixed bag over the New Year period for Hull City, as victory over Blackburn was followed up with defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday.
Firstly, the Tigers ended 2023 with a win against Blackburn Rovers, though it took plenty of effort.
City came out of the blocks quickly, dominating the play, and by the 11th minute, they had the lead through Liam Delap.
Delap collected the ball down the right, beat his man and advanced to the byline before cutting back in and slotting home under the Rovers keeper. It was a superb solo goal reminiscent of the injured Jaden Philogene, and an effort that Delap has been threatening to pull out over the past few games.
Almost instantly, Blackburn could’ve levelled it, with Samir Telalovic having an effort deflected on to the post, but City would soon be back in Blackburn’s penalty area.
On 18 minutes, Jacob Greaves placed a pass behind the defence for Aaron Connolly, who held up the ball and popped an effort around the keeper to make it 2-0.
Though this joy wouldn’t last forever, as Blackburn looked a danger throughout the half, and on the half- hour mark, a long ball over the top found Sammie Szmodics, who lofted an effort over Ingram and brought the visitors back into it.
City had plenty more chances to extend their lead again, mainly from Ozan Tufan and Delap, but City couldn’t capitalise.
And they would rue that right on the stroke of half time, as Arnor Sigurðsson found Harry Pickering on the edge of the area, who saw his effort deflect into the goal.
Rovers were back level, and City were reeling. It felt like there was only one team in the ascendency at the break.
However, City quickly took control of the game once it resumed, with Adama Traore, Tyler Morton, Connolly and Tufan creating efforts for the Tigers.
An effort from Traore on the turn on the edge of the box was tipped over by the Rovers keeper, and City would make good use of the following corner.
The corner was flicked back across goal, and Alfie Jones reacted quickly to tap the ball home, and City regained the lead, no less than deserved.
While Blackburn kept showing a dangerous side, they would be hampered by a silly red card for Dominic Hyam on 74 minutes, after he fouled Tufan for his second yellow.
Both sides still pushed for goal, with sub Greg Docherty coming closest for City when he had a go from range, only to see it wide.
In the end, it was a resilient performance from the Tigers, as they could’ve easily crumbled after losing a two-goal lead but instead got right back into it.
However, the first game of 2024 would not bring as much fortune, as City travelled to Hillsborough.
Wednesday started the game full pelt, and troubled City through several efforts. However, while City were slowly growing into the game, the momentum was completely halted when Tyler Morton won the ball from Djeidi Gassama, only for the referee to blow up for a foul… and then show a red card.
It was an awful decision, as Morton both won the ball and wasn’t excessive in his tackle, but the decision was sadly made, and City were down to 10 men for 65 minutes, with a massive task ahead of them.
While City would make it to half-time goalless, soon after Wednesday would make their advantage count, as Marvin Johnson hammered the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
And it was all over six minutes later when Gassama, now miraculously healed from Morton’s “foul”, curled a great effort past Ingram from 25 yards.
And while City fought, it was for naught as Josh Windass, son of City legend Dean, fired home to make it 3-0.
Thankfully the 3,400 travelling fans did get something to cheer late on when City were awarded a penalty, which Scott Twine took responsibility for, and duly dispatched it to make it 3-1.
Despite a spirited effort at the end, the comeback never looked likely, and the Tigers succumbed to defeat. In another world, City may have grown into the game and got something from it, but once the red was given, the chances of starting the New Year positively were slight.
But, as City were 21st on New Year’s Day 2023, and they were seventh on New Year’s Day 2024 – plenty of progress shows they’re on the right track.