Koren's magic sparks Hull as Barmby boys gain momentum
Hull City 2 Birmingham City 1
Thursday 08 December 2011
The personnel may be the same, but in formation and style Hull City under Nick Barmby are a very different team to that sent out by Nigel Pearson. The former England midfielder is encouraging the players to pass their way through teams, and after an uncertain start, a second win in successive games sees the Tigers move up to sixth in the Championship.
"This team can challenge if they show that sort of application week in, week out," said Barmby. "Our tempo was slow in the first half, but we lifted it and asked more questions in the second."
On the sort of evening which confirms winter has very much arrived, it was Birmingham who created the first chance, Chris Wood meeting Wade Elliott's corner with a near-post header which brought a sharp save from Hull goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
At the other end James Chester's header bounced down and over the bar and Cameron Stewart, cutting in from the left, fired in a low drive which Boaz Myhill parried before holding.
The visitors had already shown they could threaten on the break when they took the lead. Marlon King's touch set up Wood, and on his 20th birthday the West Bromwich Albion loanee shot low into the corner from around 15 yards.
It was a worried crowd at half-time, but they were cheered up within 90 seconds of the restart. Stewart had looked dangerous all night, and when his cross from the right was only half-cleared, the ball fell perfectly for Robert Koren, waiting on the edge of the penalty area. His low volley gave Myhill no chance.
Koren turned provider 15 minutes later, a glorious left-footed pass sending Aaron Mclean clear down the right. The forward's shot was firmly hit, but Myhill will have been disappointed to have been beaten at his near post.
On the day club owner Carson Yeung appeared in court in Hong Kong facing five counts of laundering a total of around £59m, Birmingham had their chances to equalise, notably through Guirane N'Daw. With only Gulacsi to beat, somehow the unmarked substitute headed wide. "We shouldn't have lost this game, because we had arguably the clearer chances, but they were more clinical," said the Birmingham manager, Chris Hughton.
Hull City (4-2-3-1): Gulacsi; Rosenior, Hobbs, Chester, Dawson; McKenna, Evans; Stewart (Dudgeon, 84), Koren, Mclean; Fryatt. Substitutes not used Basso (gk), Cairney, McShane, Adebola.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Myhill; Carr, Ibañez, Caldwell, Murphy; Burke (Rooney, 89), Fahey ( N'Daw, 77), Spector, Elliott; Wood (Zigic, 76), King. Substitutes not used Doyle (gk),Gomis.
Referee M Naylor (S Yorkshire).
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