Steve Bruce hasn't been short of plaudits since he returned to management at Hull with national media pundits lining up to laud his achievements in bouncing back from an unceremonious exit at Sunderland. The only problem was, the season was only six games old.
A thrilling 3-2 win at Leeds has been the peak of Hull's season so far, delighting
those among the KC faithful who consider the Whites to be the arch-enemy and
earning Bruce the Performance of the Week award, as voted for by the League
Bruce, eager to attach some tactical kudos to that fine start after his reputation took a bashing over such issues on Wearside, explained in great detail how he had implemented a system with three at the back to maximise what he had available when he arrived at the club.
Since then, the Tigers have lost three successive matches, shipping three goals in each. An edge, whether it arrives by accident or design, seldom remains an edge for too long in the competitive arena of the Championship and we think Hull could encounter more problems at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
The Owls are 6/4 to beat the side from the east end of the M62 and that looks decent value with home advantage in our favour, given that we rate these two sides as near-enough equals. However, our confidence in the bet is also boosted by an encouraging display from Wednesday to arrest a slump of five straight defeats at Burnley midweek.
The Owls came from behind three times to take a point at Turf Moor and they look like a side to be with in the coming weeks because Jones is well-known for the consistency he generates mid-season once the games start coming thick and fast and the memory of that miserable September should serve them well for quite a way down the line.
Hull do possess a goal threat, and for that Bruce should take genuine credit, so it's a game that promises goals and we see the home side getting the lion's share.
Meanwhile, Barnsley did the double over Leeds last season and we fancy Keith Hill to come up with a strategy that exposes any fatigue in the home ranks when he takes the Tykes to Elland Road on Saturday. Odds of nearly 4/1 about the away win are well worth a nibble.
Leeds have been excellent of late but you suspect Neil Warnock will welcome the international break, his thin squad has barely had chance to draw breath since beating Everton in the Capital One Cup just over a week ago and you do wonder whether high expectations in a local derby might be a bridge too far.
The Whites have taken seven points from the last available nine in the league but they spent a large portion of their games against Nottingham Forest, Everton and Bolton without the ball and Warnock has made only one substitution in the last three games. All of which considered, this is probably the last fixture Leeds need right now.
The two clubs have locked horns six times in recent years and Barnsley have won four with the other two finishing all-square, so it's unlikely the Tykes will be lacking the required belief even though they come into this clash on the back of two disappointing results at Oakwell against Ipswich and Peterborough.
1pt Barnsley to beat Leeds at 15/4 (Bet Victor,
Whites have been pushed to the limit over the past fortnight and this might be a bridge too far.
2pts Sheff Wed to beat Hull at 6/4 (general)
Owls have arrested their slump and look value to take the spoils against a leaky Tigers defence.
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