Hull and Albion take turns to tease in relegation fight

Hull City 2 West Bromwich Albion 2
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The Independent Online

It is not only at the top of the Premier League that managers play mind games. In a relegation battle with as broad a sweep as this year's, any tactic that might gain an edge is worth a try. So why not kidology?

Thus it was that Tony Mowbray and Phil Brown took it in turns to tease the other over who would have been dealt the bigger blow by defeat.

"It wouldn't have been the end of the world for us," Mowbray commented, with almost dismissive defiance, which may surprise some given that Albion remain bottom. Relayed to Brown, it prompted a raised eyebrow and a wry smile. "If we had won today," the Hull manager said, "then Tony was dead and buried." Brown's side remained six points better after the draw.

A 3-0 win at West Bromwich in October to capped an extraordinary start to Hull's debut season, the value of which Brown understood only too well. "People look at where we are and say it is disappointing," he said. "But if you had offered it me at the start of the season I would have taken it."

Maybe Jimmy Bullard will help Hull rediscover the energy of the autumn, although there is a worry already over the well-bring of Brown's £5m record signing. He jarred his right knee on his debut at West Ham last Wednesday and did not play . It is the same knee in which three of the four main ligaments were torn in September 2006. Hull say it is a fresh, unconnected injury. Scans, however, have been e-mailed to Bullard's surgeon in Colorado.

Nonetheless, there was a vibrancy in Hull's performance not seen lately. Craig Fagan scored a superb running header from a cross by the pacy Bernard Mendy, who had himself opened Hull's account with a fine individual goal. Yet Albion were resilient enough to fight back twice. Jay Simpson, the 20-year-old loanee from Arsenal, grows in stature by the game, bagging his maiden Premier League goal. The second equaliser came from a penalty, converted by Chris Brunt. On this evidence Albion look to have more potential than Hull, however, by this stage, points count for more.

Goals: Mendy (44) 1-0; Simpson (53) 1-1; Fagan (69) 2-1; Brunt pen (73) 2-2.

Hull City (4-4-2): Duke; Ricketts, Turner, Zayatte, Dawson; Mendy, Ashbee, Marney, Kilbane; Fagan, Garcia (Folan 81). Substitutes not used: Myhill (gk), Doyle, Geovanni, Hughes, France, Manucho.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Carson; Zuiverloon, Donk, Meite, Robinson; Morrison (Kim 76), Koren, Valero (Pele 88), Brunt; Fortune (Bednar 75), Simpson. Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Hoefkens, Cech, Teixeira.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Bookings: Hull: Dawson, Mendy. West Bromwich Albion: Robinson, Meite, Morrison, Zuiverloon.

Man of the match: Mendy.

Attendance: 24,879.

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