Hull City 5 Sheffield United 3 match report: Tom Huddlestone keeps FA Cup dream alive for Hull

Hull reach the FA Cup final for the first time in their history

WEMBLEY

It might not be much consolation to Sheffield United, who saw a 2-1 lead obliterated early in the second half, but they forced Hull City to produce their very best football in order to reach the FA Cup final. The 5-3 scoreline does justice to a compelling game but not as much to the efforts of Nigel Clough’s team, who dominated the first half before Hull finally woke up and started playing football.

“I’m certainly proud,” said Nigel Clough afterwards, “and that feeling will grow when we look back at what we’ve achieved, and that we were close to making history.”

There are 42 places in the leagues between Hull and Sheffield United, who would have been the first ever third-tier team to reach an FA Cup final had they won. The only way that could have happened was with United at their best and Hull at their worst – and that is precisely how the game went for the first 45 minutes.

Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final on Saturday showed the danger of top-flight complacency but Hull showed few obvious signs of having taken that in. They started the game at walking pace, almost as if they were still taking in the game at Anfield. With Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long cup-tied they did not have as much incisiveness up front as usual, but that does not excuse the lack of focus or control.

United out-ran and out-fought Hull for the whole of the first half, snapping into tackles, closing down spaces and showing for the ball, catching their opponents well off guard. When they took the lead, after 19 minutes, it was fully deserved. John Brayford took a short throw, received the return pass and whipped in a cross to the near post. Jose Baxter darted in front of Curtis Davies and bundled the ball in, before a poignant celebration in which the Liverpudlian kissed his black Hillsborough memorial armband.

 

Hull were rattled, United started to play with confidence and verve and their fans were cheering every pass. Even when Hull equalised, three minutes before the break, Yannick Sagbo turning in Jake Livermore’s perfect low cross, Sheffield United took it in their stride and went back in front before the break.

Jamie Murphy burst down the left, shook off Liam Rosenior and pulled the ball back. Hull, again, were sleeping, Stefan Scougall burst in between Davies and Maynor Figueroa and smacked the ball past Steve Harper.

“We were awful in the first half,” Bruce admitted. “I saw more mistakes in the first half-hour than I’ve seen in six months. We kept surrendering the ball, passing it back to them, we didn’t defend properly, didn’t pick up, didn’t do anything.”

It was Davies, not Bruce, who did the necessary at half-time. “I didn’t say much,” the manager added, “I just had a cup of tea. The b*********s were down to the captain, he was a proper captain.”

Matty Fryatt and Sone Aluko replaced Figueroa and George Boyd, and within three minutes Fryatt, who has started more games for Sheffield Wednesday this season than for Hull, drew them level at 2-2, turning in James Chester’s effort from two yards out after an uncleared corner.

Clough said that goal was the “killer blow” and Hull, woken up, started to play. Tom Huddlestone, the best player on the pitch, put them ahead by exchanging passes with David Meyler, shrugging off Michael Doyle with real authority and clipping the ball into the far corner.

The Hull fans were now ole-ing their passes. Bruce threw on Stephen Quinn and it only took him two minutes to score the fourth. Meyler slid a pass through to Livermore in the inside-right channel and Quinn nodded in the cross.

That should have been that but United would not go quietly and made added time more anxious than it ought to have been for Hull. Murphy volleyed Ryan Flynn’s header to make it 4-3, but United’s desperate pursuit of an equaliser only allowed Hull in on the break.

Ahmed Elmohamady set free Meyler, who confirmed Hull’s place in the final. United, meanwhile, have just five games left this season, but a message from Clough to take this feeling into next season.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most