McPhee shines as Hull start solidly

Hull City 0 Queen's Park Rangers 0
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The Independent Football

Taylor has been doing his best to discourage unrealistic optimism but if words have failed so far to do the trick, here was visible evidence to support his argument.

Hull greeted their Championship debut with predictable enthusiasm, but against a Rangers side of no great shakes but a little more experience, it looked likely they would need time to acclimatise. "I was pleased with the way we started but it is a stronger, more physical division than the one we have come out of," Taylor said.

"If we can establish ourselves in the division this season I will he happy. Queen's Park Rangers finished 11th last season and that has to be the benchmark for us."

Not that Hull looked out of place. But with better finishing it would probably have been the visitors who came out on top. Kevin Gallen and Paul Furlong both had good chances to score before half-time, the latter missing a relatively straightforward header.

Taylor expected a robust performance from Ian Holloway's side, packed with solid, muscular players, and confirmation came almost instantly, when a tackle from behind by Furlong - unpunished by the referee Dermot Gallagher - ended former defender Mark Lynch's involvement barely two minutes into his Hull debut. A dislocated kneecap is likely to mean a lay-off of at least two months.

Holloway conceded that it had been "an overzealous challenge" by his player. "I spoke to him at half-time because I didn't feel it was a tackle he needed to make, although he is not a player who would set out to hurt someone," he said. Taylor concurred: "I know Paul very well and he would not deliberately injure another player but I was surprised the referee said nothing to him."

Taylor's line-up reflected a busy close-season, including three new signings, among whom Steve McPhee, the former Port Vale striker who last season was with the Portuguese club, Beira Mar, looks a potential crowd pleaser.

The 24-year-old, signed for £220,000, forced an untidy save from Simon Royce after linking with Nick Barmby and hit the bar with a second shot, only to be ruled offside. His third attempt on goal within the first 20 minutes was deflected for a corner.

Rangers responded but were wasteful, Gallen squandering one opportunity by shooting wide in a good position, Furlong directing a free header off target from a Lee Cook cross. "They were good chances and I'm disappointed we didn't score," Holloway said. "On balance I felt we just about deserved to win, although after getting a 3-0 drubbing on the first day last season, at least we can put a point in our top pocket."