City midfielder Darel Russell saw a certain compliment in the way that the Tigers set themselves out last night – even if it didn't ease his frustration at that 1-1 draw.
Minus an injured Dean Windass and a sick Caleb Folan, Hull boss Phil Brown threw a five-man midfield in Norwich's path and left just on-loan Manchester United starlet Frazier Campbell as a lone frontman.
In fairness to Brown, tactically it worked a treat as the returning Jay-Jay Okocha chipped the perfect, hanging through-ball for Campbell to chase in between Jason Shackell and Ryan Bertrand.
As both defenders lost their footing as Campbell kept his, so the Hull striker was able to poke a nasty, bobbly shot beneath David Marshall for the visitors' 52nd minute equaliser.
Thereafter, and as much as Brown would claim afterwards his side arrived at Carrow Road intent on a win, so they simply slung all bar Campbell behind the ball and invited Norwich to try and break them down again. Try as they might, that second goal just eluded Glenn Roeder's men and they were left with only a 13-game unbeaten run to show for their efforts.
“They probably came here looking not to get beat and flood the game in a sense,” said Russell, whose industry and energy did much to keep the Tigers penned in their own half.
“And I take it that they'll go away tonight delighted with the point that they've got.”
Dion Dublin's first home goal of the season – his seventh in total – had earlier put the Canaries in reasonable charge of the contest and had Lee Croft's curler not been palmed one-handed around a post by Boaz Myhill it might have been a different story.
But a sloppy first 15 minutes to the second period cost Norwich that first-half momentum and after denying Campbell with a stunning, finger-tip save moments earlier, once the 20-year-old's second effort had bobbled beneath him so the Canaries were left with that solitary point.
“Things were going OK,” said Russell, who would see Myhill palm his second-half drive wide in the midst of one almighty scramble.
“We got the goal and obviously at half-time there were just a couple of things that we needed to sort out. And we did say that we didn't want to concede early in the second-half. Because you knew that they were going to come out at us.
“But, disappointingly so, we've gone out there and conceded a horrible goal. We had a scrappy 15 minutes and it then it was probably only the last half hour of the game when we started to get to grips of it and tried to pass it. But it was too little, too late really.”
As Roeder would likewise note, the crowd deserved the three points for their role as the manager's “12th man”. Certainly the volume button was switched to 'high' as the Canaries piled forward in search of a fourth straight league success.
“We were desperate for the win,” said Russell. “And to a certain extent it feels like a loss in the changing rooms after the game.
“Because the boys are really disappointed. But it just shows how far we've come where we want to win every game – and we're almost expecting to win every game.”
It was simply one of those nights where the ball just didn't sit up as required. And credit Hull. They were big, strong, committed and organised – qualities that will take any team far in this league.
“Massively disappointing that we didn't pick up all three points today,” added Russell. “We've had some good chances – and they've had one or two.
“Marshy's pulled off a fantastic save as well today; just disappointing.”
Even the fact that Norwich pulled three huge points out of that away trip to Cardiff failed to ease the 27-year-old's frustrated mood. It was still four points from the last two games; 27 points from 39 in the course of that magnificent 13-game unbeaten run.
“As crazy as it sounds, we want to win every game – and we've come in and we're disappointed,” said Russell. “It's a great run; it's still four points from two games and that's fantastic – but we wanted six.”
This weekend and the Canaries travel to the Walkers Stadium for a swift rematch with Ian Holloway's struggling Foxes. The 0-0 draw at Carrow Road last month was one of the most one-sided goalless draws anyone had seen – Holloway included. Hence the sense from Russell that there's some unfinished business to be had.
“We've now just got to look towards Saturday; we owe Leicester one to a certain degree after the result here when we got a draw and probably should have won the game, but it's going to be a fantastic game and we're looking forward to that now.”
Not that he was taking anything for granted. Holloway's side will always make life difficult, even ih he hasn't quite got them motoring in the manner that Foxes' owner Milan Mandaric might have hoped.
“They're a good side and we know what the manager's like – he creates a good, solid side that are hard to beat. And they're going to be on their patch, but we've been doing very well away from home.
“And we're not going to be playing like the way Hull have today to try and get a point, we're going to be going there to win. That's the way to go about games.”
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