Steve Bruce acknowledged his side had ridden their luck in securing the three points that took the Tigers to seventh in the Premier League, but insisted his side deserved the win.
There is unlikely to be a softer penalty awarded this season that that which referee Kevin Friend gave to Hull early in the first half, after midfielder Robbie Brady went down after feeling the arm of Joey O’Brien make contact with his back.
Mr Friend then further infuriated West Ham by turning down their appeal when the ball hit the elbow of Hull’s Jake Livermore in his own penalty area in the second period, leaving Hammers manager Sam Allardyce shaking his head in disbelief.
“We’re failing to take our chances into goals away from home, and that cost us getting something out of the game, but there were two really poor decisions by the referee,” said Allardyce.
“The first thing is becoming a massive problem, because it’s happened at Newcastle, Southampton and now here, and the players have to be more clinical in front of goal, but the other side is that Brady simulated under a slight contact when the ball was nowhere near him, he buys a penalty, and then Livermore puts his arm out and knocks the ball for a corner.
“So it’s our responsibility for not taking our chances but the referee’s as well for us losing the game.”
Following the penalty, both sides saw efforts cleared off the line during the first half. James Tomkins’ header beat City goalkeeper Allan McGregor only for Ahmed El-Mohamady to chest the ball away, with the newly deployed ‘Hawkeye’ technology immediately confirming the whole ball had not crossed the line. At the other end Curtis Davies saw Modibo Maiga kick his header up on to the top of the West Ham bar.
The necessity for West ham to chase the game ensured the second period was even more open. Sone Aluko put the ball into the net from an offside position soon after the break, and from the edge of the penalty area Livermore drove a firm shot against Jaaskelainen’s right hand post with the goalkeeper well beaten, but otherwise most of the traffic was towards the Hull goal.
Allardyce rang the attacking changes, bringing on Mladen Petric for the misfiring Maiga, and then adding Stewart Downing and Ricardo Vaz Te to the mix, but his side needed a moment of fortune and did not get one. They thought they had when the ball hit Livermore’s elbow, but Mr Friend did not agree.
Bruce’s acceptance that “the big decisions” had gone their way was quickly qualified. “On the other hand we created the better chances, their goalkeeper had to make more saves than mine, and we hit the post and the bar.
“I’ve seen the alleged handball, and I don’t think you can say whether it was deliberate, and whether the penalty is soft, maybe, but make no mistake, the better side won on the day.”
Hull (4-4-2): McGregor: Rosenior, Davies, Faye, Figueroa: El-Mohamady, Huddlestone, Livermore, Brady (Meyler, 80): Graham (Sagbo, 70), Aluko (Boyd, 89).
Subs not used: Harper, Bruce, McShane, Quin.
West Ham (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; O’Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Rat; Diame (Downing, 70), Morrison, Noble, Nolan, Jarvis (Vaz Te 70); Maiga (Petric, 59, 6).
Man of the match: Jake Livermore (Hull)
Match rating: 7/10