If, as is widely expected in East Yorkshire, Abel Hernandez is confirmed to have been signed by Hull City for £10m, the Uruguay international striker will not be playing Europa League football. The Tigers were unable to recover from the concession of an away goal, and ended a desperately poorly refereed and therefore increasingly fractious game reduced to 10 men after the harsh second-half dismissal of Yannick Sagbo.
The 1,500 or so supporters who had travelled from Belgium, having already impressed with their volume, won further appreciation for holding up a “No To Hull Tigers” banner before kick-off, and the sense of general benevolence in the stadium improved still further when Hull took just six minutes to open the scoring.
Welcome as it was, the goal was a bit of gift. Maynor Figueroa’s low, curling cross from the left should have been easily gathered by Davino Verhulst, but the Lokeren goalkeeper dithered horribly before making a late, ineffectual lunge. The ball rebounded off Robbie Brady and in.
Lokeren’s response was strong and the pressure told four minutes after the break, when Hull failed to clear a corner. The ball arrived at the feet of Jordan Remacle as much by accident as design, but there was nothing lucky about the rising drive that beat Allan McGregor from the angle.
Hull were quickly back ahead, courtesy of Koen Persoons’ attempt to block an Ahmed Elmohamady cross, which the assistant referee decided had resulted in a handball. Brady sent Verhulst the wrong way from the spot.
City may have been lucky again soon afterwards when a Hans Vanaken shot from inside the penalty area beat McGregor only to be ruled out for a foul in the build-up. Sagbo was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Giorgos Galitsios in which he appeared to have connected with the ball first.
Hull threw men forward towards the end but Lokeren held firm.
Hull City (3-5-2): McGregor; Rosenior (Jelavic 66), Chester (Ince, 75), Davies; Elmohamady, Brady, Livermore, Meyler (Huddlestone, 75) Figueroa; Aluko, Sagbo. Substitutes not used Harper, Bruce, Maguire, Boyd.
Lokeren (4-4-2): Verhulst; Galitsios, Maric, Scholz, Odoi; Remacle (Ngolok, 88), Overmeire, Persoons, Depauw (Mertens, 90); Dutra (Leye, 76), Vanaken. Substitutes not used Barry, Boubacar, Ricciardi, Abdurahimi.
Referee O Hategan (Romania).
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