City boss Paul Lambert will not getting too downhearted this evening, despite Hull recording their first away win in 18 months with a 2-0 success at Carrow Road today.
It was classic smash n’ grab stuff from the Tigers and after a dull first-half, City looked the likely winners up until Nigel Pearson’s men struck twice in the last ten minutes.
A Robert Koren header and classy Tom Cairney free-kick sealed all three points for Hull but there will be no major panics in Norfolk. This is the Championship after all.
And Lambert was happy with the way his players stuck to the task. There was no lack of effort on show and as the saying goes, ‘you win some, you lose some’.
“Something can always happen when it’s 0-0 but I thought we were excellent. We’ll play worse and win games, that’s for sure,” he told reporters after the game.
“Everybody in the stadium knew we were the better side and Nigel [Pearson] said it himself as well. I can’t ask for any more from them. We were excellent.
“But the higher level you go to the easier it is to get punished, that’s just the way football is – Hull are just out of the Premier League. But with the way we played and the way the crowd reacted, we’re definitely on the right track.”
To be fair, it was a slow start to the contest with chances at a premium. Hull were trying to force the play but Cairney’s 7th minute shot from outside of the box was easily parried by John Ruddy in the City goal.
Grant Holt headed a corner over 11 minutes later but the opening 20 minutes were certainly cagey, with both teams unwilling to take too many risks.
Former England squad member Jimmy Bullard – who passed a late fitness test – shot well over on 24 but it was City’s turn to try and force an opener next and if Holt had found himself on the end of Russell Martin’s whipped cross, it would surely have made the back of the net.
I’d love to tell you more but there really was a lack of goalmouth action during the first 45 minutes, despite the Canaries gaining in confidence as the half went on.
As the half drew to a close, the hosts were on the front foot, trying to find a way through but to be fair to the Tigers, they were fairly solid in defence.
But unfortunately for the neutrals, Hull were finding it as difficult as Norwich to make any headway in terms of goalscoring opportunities.
The second-half got underway and City were, like the latter stages of the first-half, trying to make things happen but Wes Hoolahan’s 48th minute shot from the edge of the box was well wide.
A few minutes later, Leon Barnett almost got on the end of a chipped Hoolahan delivery and the Canaries were desperately trying to break down a stubborn Tigers backline.
After 58 minutes, City had their first clear-cut chance of the half when Simon Lappin cut the ball back beautifully for Hoolahan, but his close-range shot was well blocked by Matt Duke in the Hull goal.
At the hour mark it was all Norwich and with the Barclay end behind them, there only looked like one team in it, with Hoolahan yet again pulling the strings.
However, after a decent spell from Lambert’s men, the game went quiet again and with the autumn chill setting in, the 24,947 inside Carrow Road were not getting much for their hard-earned dollar.
On 77 minutes though, the best chance of the entire match fell to Chrissy Martin. After a beautifully weighted pass from Hoolahan, the young City striker looked set to score but he could only shoot straight at Duke, when he really should have angled it into the corner of the net.
Four minutes later, another glorious Hoolahan cross found the head of Barnett but almost straight after, the Tigers took an unlikely lead through a scrappy effort from summer signing Koren.
Andy Dawson’s cross – after a game of pinball in and around the Norwich box – was deflected off Elliott Ward and the Slovenian international headed home to give Hull the advantage.
And to rub City noses in it, the Tigers made it two on 89 minutes after a wonderful free-kick from the dangerous Cairney. Koren was chopped down by Ward on the edge of the area and the Hull youngster curled it in to give Ruddy absolutely no chance.
City: Ruddy; R Martin, Barnett, Ward, Drury; K Smith, Crofts, Lappin (McNamee 85); Hoolahan; Holt, C Martin (Jackson 79). Subs not used: Rudd, Fox, Johnson, S Smith, Askou.