Town 1-1 Hull City
Saturday, 19th Feb 2011 17:10
Sub Jay Simpson grabbed a late point for Hull City after Jason Scotland looked to have put the Blues on their way to their third successive home league win under Paul Jewell. Town had impressed in a goalless first half but it took until the 58th for Scotland to break the deadlock with a low 20-yard shot, but with five minutes remaining Simpson looped home a back header.
As expected Town boss Jewell handed new signing Andy Drury his full debut in place of Jimmy Bullard, who was unavailable against his parent club, in what was otherwise an unchanged side. Luke Hyam came on to the bench, while Hull included former Blue Liam Rosenior in their side.
On a slippery pitch after heavy morning rain, Carlos Edwards struck the game’s first shot in the second minute but the ball flew over.
A minute later debutant Andy Drury hit his first strike in league football, volleying too close to Hull keeper Brad Guzan after good work from Colin Healy and Jason Scotland.
The Blues had started strongly and it took a last-ditch Rosenior challenge to dispossess Wickham as he made a strong run into the box on the left. Drury took on corner duties in Bullard’s absence and whipped in two dangerous efforts but without the Blues significantly threatening the Hull goal.
For Hull, Cameron Stewart sent in a testing ball from the right which, given the slippy surface, Márton Fülöp was probably wisely to push around the post.
The Blues again threatened on 11 when, after a clever Drury flick, Martin sent in a cross from the left, which Wickham met at the far post, a defender bundling his effort wide. Drury felt he had been fouled as the ball came across but referee Craig Pawson thought otherwise and awarded a corner.
The visitors broke quickly after Town had failed to make the most of the set piece and it took a superb tackle from Carlos Edwards to dispossess Matty Fryatt with the Tigers two-against-two well inside the Blues half.
On 17 Hull midfielder Tijani Belaid hammered a 30-yard freekick only narrowly over Fülöp’s crossbar.
Stand-in skipper Grant Leadbitter almost scored a stunning opener in the 20th minute, breaking into the area to receive an Edwards throw from the right and lashing a shot which was only just too high.
It had been a frenetic first 20 minutes and the pace of the game showed no sign of letting up, Scotland scraping a 22nd minute shot wide of Guzan’s left post.
Town again went close in the 29th minute when Martin sent in a deep cross from the right but Wickham mis-hit his shot wide at the far post.
The Blues were by now well on top and on the half hour, Leadbitter unleashed a 30-yard piledriver, which Guzan pushed wide. From the resultant corner, the ball was cleared to the former Sunderland man, who hit another promising effort just over from a similar distance.
On 33 The Blues’ skipper for the day picked up the first yellow card of the day for a foul on Stewart. From the freekick, Aaron Mclean’s shot was blocked and Edwards cleared the loose ball before another Hull player could react.
Four minutes later, another excellent Drury corner from the left reached Wickham deep beyond the far post but the 17-year-old was unable to direct the ball goalwards when at a stretch.
Drury had enjoyed a superb first half and in the 40th minute almost created an opening goal for his side with a brilliant pass into the path of Kennedy, who had broken into the area on the left. The veteran Irishman cut the ball back to Wickham but Andy Dawson reacted quickly to get in ahead of the young striker.
At the other end, former Tiger Damien Delaney blocked from Aaron Mclean but the Blues had been on top for the most part and given the number of chances which had been created ought to have been in front.
Referee Pawson’s whistle signalled an end to an entertaining half which the Blues had more than shaded. It was probably the Blues’ best footballing performance of the season and they deserved to be in front having created a number of decent chances.
Debutant Drury looked far from a player making his first Football League start at the age of 27, making innumerable composed touches in tight areas in central midfield, making more than a few visionary passes and also sending in threatening corners from both sides of the pitch.
The former Luton man created the second half’s first opening, sending in a freekick from the right which found Delaney at the far post but the Irishman was unable to get the ball into a position where he could take a shot at goal.
Town finally went in front in the 58th minute when Scotland was sent away in space down the left by a long Wickham pass. With Martin making a strong run into the area unmarked, the Trinidadian could have sent in an early cross but instead he cut inside and hit a low shot which Guzan helped into the net when he might have done better. It was the former Wigan man’s ninth goal of the season and his eighth at Portman Road.
On 62 Hull had their best chance of the game up to then when Delaney’s tackle rebounded off Mclean and sent the ex-Grays Athletic man into the area in space but Fülöp saved his low strike.
Chances became rarer as the half wore on with the visitors inevitably looking forward more and the Blues generally committing fewer men into attack, but on 74 after Edwards had brought the ball out from deep, Drury shot wide from 25 yards.
As the game moved towards the last 10 minutes Tamás Priskin replaced Jason Scotland who, in addition to his goal, had put in another good shift. On 83 Luciano Civelli replaced Lee Martin.
With five minutes remaining, Hull, who were putting the Blues under pressure for the first time, equalised. Evans crossed from the left and sub Jay Simpson looped a back header beyond Fülöp and into the net.
It was the visitors’ first serious chance of the second half and on the balance of the game overall, the leveller flattered Nigel Pearson’s men despite their late push. Soon after the goal, Leadbitter was found in space 20 yards out, but his shot went beyond Guzan’s post.
In injury time Jamie Devitt replaced Cameron Stewart for Hull, the former Manchester United man having gone off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a knee injury.
It was the visitors doing most of the pressing in the final moments, Fülöp fingertipping away a corner from the left but neither they nor Town could find a winner before referee Pawson’s whistle.
Town will be disappointed to come away with just a point after going ahead, having conceded a late goal just as they did at Barnsley a week ago.
The second half performance wasn’t up to the standard of the first which had been as good as any Town display this season.
Andy Drury, who had had an excellent first period, was one of a number of Town players to tire after the break and the Blues rarely looked like adding to their lead after Scotland’s opener.
Town seemed unsettled by their substitutions, while the Tigers looked a threat for pretty much the first time after the introductions of Nick Barmby and scorer Jay Simpson from the bench. Overall though, a point probably flattered the visitors.
However, Portman Road’s second league draw of the season stretches the Blues’ league unbeaten run to six games under Paul Jewell’s management and keeps them in 13th place, 13 points from the relegation zone and 11 from the play-offs, firmly in mid-table.
Town: Fülöp, Edwards, Kennedy, McAuley, Delaney, Leadbitter, Drury, Healy, Martin (Civelli 83), Wickham, Scotland (Priskin 80). Unused: Lee-Barrett, Peters, Hyam, Smith, O’Dea.
Hull City: Guzan, Rosenior, Dawson, Chester, Gerrard, Koren, Evans, Stewart (Devitt 90), Belaid (Simpson 78), Fryatt, Mclean (Barmby 63). Unused: Duke, Hobbs, Harper, Cairney , Devitt. Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire). Att: 19,245 (Hull: 640)
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