|Hull City 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 15th September 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Town Visit Hull Looking to End Winless Runs
Friday, 14th Sep 2018 14:17
Town visit Hull City on Saturday still looking for their first win of the Paul Hurst era and for their first victory at the KCOM Stadium since March 2007.
Back then a team managed by Jim Magilton thrashed the Tigers 5-2, however, in the seven games - six in the Championship, one in the FA Cup - between the sides in Hull since the Blues have fallen to five defeats, while two matches have been drawn.
Town and Hull have made similar starts to this campaign with the 23rd-placed Blues still without a victory under Hurst - or a point from their three games on the road - on three points and the Tigers two places and one point above them so far without claiming a point at home.
Despite the wait for a win - the Blues' last was the 4-0 victory at Reading in the penultimate game of last season - Hurst says he is not going to change Town’s approach believing there have been positive signs in the six Championship games so far during 2018/19.
“I think the minute it’s stick with what we’re doing,” he said. “There might be some people out there who are thinking that it’s not working at the minute.
“But I don’t think it’s been far off working and what’s going to be Plan B if we go to that? Or do we decide to take no chances whatsoever, kick the ball as far up the pitch and run after it? Is that going to bring us a win? Who knows.
“What I would say is that we’ve got to have the attitude to win at all costs so if, for instance, like the Norwich game when we’re in front and it’s not the last minute but the ball’s there to clear, clear the ball as much as we want to play.
“It’s just striking that little bit of balance between the [two at] times in games, but overall keep doing a lot of what we have been doing.
“I was asked about stats and what I believe in and we know what the biggest one is and it’s not good reading at the minute.
“But I’m watching the games and then trying to make sure I’m being honest to myself about them and a lot of what I’m looking at suggests a lot of what I’m looking at suggests what I see is along the right lines.
“And in time, given a similar run of things, I think we can win games of football. It can become a little bit of a mental issue, but at the minute I see a confident group of players, a group of players who have got a good spirit about them and hopefully they’ll get that reward for the hard work that they’re putting in, hopefully Saturday.”
Given their start to the season at home, Hurst agreed that Hull supporters will see Saturday’s match as an opportunity to claim a much-needed first home win of the season, perhaps adding to the pressure on the Tigers.
“There’s no doubt anyone that plays us at this moment in time will think that it’s a very winnable game and we’ve got to try and show that it’s certainly not as easy as that,” he said.
“If we can heap any pressure on to them, then great. But I’m very focused on what we’re trying to do and if we can play as I believe we can then we will certainly give them a good game.”
Saturday’s match, the home game against Bolton next weekend and the trip to Birmingham which follows might be seen as good opportunities to claim wins, but Hurst says no games can be taken lightly.
“I think you could have said that maybe about the first couple of games,” he reflected. “Nothing against Blackburn and Rotherham, but having been promoted teams I think they both were winnable.
“We perhaps did quite a lot to win those games to a degree but didn’t, so I think you have to be careful certainly as a manager and players. I don’t think we’re in a position where we can feel that anything is going to be easy, that’s for sure.
“But just to be cautious of that and not getting overconfident, but I don’t think we’re in that position at the minute, it’s more the other way of having that belief to go and get that victory and hopefully kick on from there.”
After the closure of the transfer window on August 9th and then the deadline for loan signings having passed at the end of the month, Hurst’s business for the summer is now over, aside from the potential addition of free agent central defender James Collins.
“Lots of changes, as I’ve said. I think overall positive,” he added when asked to assess the comings and goings.
“I think some of those players that have come into the football club will take longer than others to settle in, but I believe that they can all go on and be good players for Ipswich Town.
“Obviously we’ve had some outs, some of those [loans] particularly will benefit the lads and hopefully they’ll gain some good experience.
“So overall I’m very satisfied. I think we spoke prior to it closing about how many changes there were and that there were probably more than a lot of people expected, so now it’s about really trying to get those moulded into a team, into partnerships to help us start getting the results that we want.”
However, he doesn’t believe it’s now a case of simply finding and sticking with a starting line-up.
“Not particularly,” he continued. “It’s not about 11 players. You’d like to be relatively settled and if the team produce an absolutely outstanding display and win, the calls will be not to change that.
“Thinking about the games, with the distance we travel, the effort that it needs, it’s a big ask to then go into a game against Brentford, arguably one of the best footballing sides in the division people would generally say, who have started the season well.
“I’ve got to try and be sensible about my thoughts of what to do. Some of that will be dictated to by performance levels and how I feel lads are, what physical exertions have gone on in that game.
“But it’s very much more about just the actual period settling down and - although we’re still talking about a possible in - in general just concentrating fully on what’s here, the phone not ringing off the hook, so to speak, and just trying to have not as much going on in the background, which means it’s a little easier for everyone to concentrate on the games ahead.”
The international break allowed Hurst to spend a few days working with the squad on the training pitch, more on conditioning and the approach to Saturday’s match than on freekicks or corners.
“Bits of fitness, set pieces I think there’s no doubt that you can be good at them,” he said. “We came up with a couple of corners against Norwich that on another day could quite easily have got goals.
“Some people work on them for days, others it might just be a morning. I think if you’ve got bright enough players and it’s clear and they know, you go and tell them and remind them prior to the game, but you don’t have to spend forever on those.
“It hasn’t been so much about that, more fitness for some lads and then looking at a couple of things in terms of how we want to play, and looking at Hull.
“But again, are they going to line-up the same? I think that’s very debatable in terms of players they’ve brought in, whether that’s just changing personnel, perhaps changing the system.
“So, while we spoke about what they’ve done so far, it has been alongside the message that they may change and we have to deal with that on the day if that’s the case.
“But more about what we’re trying to do. There’s been a good spirit in the camp, which is crucial and what I expect. But now the game’s coming and we know that that will affect the mood, depending on how those games go.”
One continuing frustration is the wait for Janoi Donacien’s permanent leave to remain to be confirmed. That news, which is expected at any time, would mean the St Lucian’s move from Accrington will become a permanent switch rather than a loan.
Town currently have six players on loan, one more than is permitted in a matchday squad, therefore Hurst is currently forced to make a decision on which one to leave out, Donacien having been the unlucky man against Norwich.
“It’ll just be a case of whoever misses out on that day,” he said. “If someone’s injured then that makes it a lot easier, if someone’s way out of form.
“If they all look like they’re doing well on the training pitch then it’s a case of [what happened before Norwich]. I pulled Janoi aside last week when I’d named it all and spoke to him and explained why and that will be similar if it’s someone different moving forward.
“It’s not ideal but we’ve just got to get on with that. I’m not going to rotate for the sake of it.
“Without coming across too harsh or hard, I’m going to pick people that I think are right for each game and who’s performing, so I’m not going to just be everyone’s friend and say, ‘It’s your turn this week’. I’ve got to do what’s right for the football club.”
Hurst has confirmed that Dean Gerken will again start in goal and the back four may well also be unchanged from the Norwich match with Jordan Spence at right-back, Jonas Knudsen on the left and skipper Luke Chambers and Matthew Pennington at the heart of the backline.
In midfield, Cole Skuse - who is over the head injury he suffered against the Canaries - and Jon Nolan could play the deeper roles as they did against Norwich, although Trevoh Chalobah could also be in Hurst’s thoughts.
Gwion Edwards will be on the right with Jordan Graham, Grant Ward and Tayo Edun among the options for the left. If Graham, another of the loanees, isn’t involved then it may be that Donacien returns at right-back.
As against Norwich, Jon Walters looks set to play between the two deeper central midfielders and lone striker Kayden Jackson.
Danny Rowe could be on the bench in the league for the first time this season but Emyr Huws and Teddy Bishop are still in and out of training as they continue their recoveries. Central defender Toto Nsiala serves the second game of his three-match ban.
Hull could give debuts to recent loan signings Tommy Elphick and Chris Martin, while Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine may return having missed the last two Championship games due to a thigh injury. Defender Ondrej Mazuch is back in training after a knee problem suffered in pre-season.
Defender Eric Lichaj isn’t expected back at the club after international duty with the US until today, while Polish cap Kamil Grosicki is in contention after a move broke down close to the transfer deadline.
Tigers manager Nigel Adkins says his team need to build on their display in their Championship game at home to Derby prior to the international break, despite that match having ended in a 2-1 defeat.
“It’s our next game and it’s about can we keep improving on our last performance,” he told the Hull club site.
“That was a good one against Derby County but it brought a sucker punch at the end because we didn’t capitalise on the chances that we had.
“We know that Saturday will be a tough game because Ipswich Town are an organised outfit. They don’t concede many goals from open play, so we have to break things down and look at how we can go and win this match.
“We’re focused on the process of our performance and I’d say that in terms of the league fixtures so far, there’s only the Blackburn game where we have been disappointed with our performance.
“A couple of genuine individual mistakes have cost us in other games. We have to keep focusing on our performance because if we get that right, and sometimes find that little bit of fortune along the way, we have the chance to win games of football.”
Historically, Hull have the edge on the Blues having won 16 of the games between the teams (15 in the league), while Town have been victorious eight times (eight) and a further 11 (11) matches have been draws.
The Blues are without a win in 11 games against the Tigers in all competitions, the East Yorkshire side having won eight of them.
Hull have been beaten in all three of their Championship games at the KCOM Stadium this season with their only league victory so far having been a 3-2 win at Rotherham.
They also suffered a further home defeat in the second round of the Carabao Cup to Derby, 4-0. Going back to last season they have lost their last six at home in all competitions.
In March, Town failed to score for the fifth successive home game for the first time in their history as Hull City comfortably beat the Blues 3-0 at a fractious Portman Road with then-manager Mick McCarthy holding an impromptu meeting with his players on the pitch afterwards.
Town went close to opening the scoring early on when Jordan Spence hit the post on eight but went behind to Markus Henriksen’s 25-yard strike in the 18th minute, Harry Wilson doubled the lead for the previously struggling Tigers on 40 and Jarrod Bowen completed the scoring two minutes after the break.
At the KCOM Stadium in November last year, Spence netted an 88th minute equaliser as Town and Hull drew 2-2, the Blues' first draw for 25 matches.
Town got off to the perfect start when David McGoldrick put them ahead in the sixth minute but the Tigers levelled through Bowen on 34, then went in front via Nouha Dicko six minutes after the restart.
McGoldrick missed a penalty in the 75th minute but Spence’s third goal of the season grabbed Town their first draw of the season with two minutes remaining.
No one in the Hull squad has played for the Blues but ex-Town frontman Richard Naylor coaches the U18s at their academy.
On-loan Town striker Jon Walters had two spells with the Tigers early in his career. The Republic of Ireland international scored five goals in 11 starts in a loan spell from Blackburn between February and May 2003 and three goals in 11 starts and 28 sub appearances having joined on a permanent basis in February 2004 before being released in June 2005.
Saturday's referee is Tony Harrington from Cleveland, who has shown 12 yellow cards and one red in three games so far this season.
Harrington's last Town match was the 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa in November last year in which he booked Callum Connolly and Huws.
He also took control of the 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United the previous month in which he yellow-carded Knudsen and two home players.
Before that he refereed the 2-1 defeat at QPR at the start of January 2017 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout and also the 0-0 home draw with Aston Villa at Portman Road in September of the previous year in which he booked Tom Lawrence and one Villan.
Harrington took charge of the 2-1 defeat at Bristol City in February 2016, in which he booked Kevin Foley and one home player.
Prior to that he refereed the 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield in April 2015, in which he booked Tommy Smith, Christophe Berra and one Terrier, and the 3-0 Boxing Day 2013 victory at Doncaster in which he yellow-carded just one Rovers player.
Squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Donacien, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Pennington, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Edun, Rowe, Edwards, Sears, Ward, Graham, Roberts, Nolan, Walters, Harrison, Jackson.
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