Tigers fans banking on Brown staying put

Hull City 2 Middlesbrough 1
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The Independent Football

No wonder Phil Brown is being linked with the managerial vacancy at Sunderland. After all, anyone who can officially open a bank in the middle of the credit crunch, as Hull City's manager did last week, is clearly a man to command respect.

A number of Hull fans attended the bank's opening and the same question was on all their lips: would Brown leave if offered the chance to manage Sunderland, the club he supported as a boy? After Saturday's victory at the KC Stadium he chose his words carefully but gave no indication that he has any plans other than to build on his remarkable work in taking Hull to fifth in the Premier League table.

From the moment Roy Keane walked away from the Stadium of Light, Brown must have known that speculation about himself and Sunderland would be inevitable.

Brown said he hoped the Sunderland issue would not become a distraction from his own task at Hull, where he has an excellent rapport with his chairman, Paul Duffen. "The relationship with the chairman is always a major factor in any manager's career," Brown said. "The bond between the chairman and the manager has to be the strongest link in the club. It is here and long may it continue."

Hull had gone into this match having drawn their previous three games and lost the three before that. It was typical of Brown's positive approach that he saw the victory as a fourth successive unbeaten match rather than the end of a run of six without a win. "It was important that we got the win to cement our position in the top six," he added. "That's a lovely phrase to come out with at this stage of the season."

While Hull may lack the class of those around them, nobody can doubt their spirit. For the first 20 minutes Middlesbrough's youngsters threatened to pull Brown's team apart with their fluent passing, but Michael Turner and Kamil Zayatte soon took charge at the centre of the Hull defence.

This was the sixth Premier League match Hull have won or drawn after going behind. Their response to Tuncay Sanli's back-heeled opener after 79 minutes was exemplary, even if their goals possessed an element of luck.

Bernard Mendy's shot hit a post and rebounded into the net off Ross Turnbull, the Middlesbrough goalkeeper, before David Wheater was harshly punished when Geovanni went down in the penalty area. Gareth Southgate, the Middlesbrough manager, thought Geovanni had been offside in the build-up and saw "minimal contact" from his defender, who was shown the red card. Marlon King converted the penalty.

Middlesbrough had not lost away from home for nearly three months, but this was the fourth time this season they have lost in the league after taking the lead. "When you go ahead at that stage you expect to win," Southgate said. "Obviously, the key was keeping that lead longer than we did, but we were naïve in the way we played for the next 90 seconds."

Goals: Tuncay (79) 0-1; Turnbull (82 og) 1-1; King (85 pen) 2-1.

Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; McShane, Turner, Zayatte, Ricketts; Marney (Mendy, 61), Boateng, Ashbee, Barmby (Cousin, 61); King, Geovanni (Halmosi, 86). Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Windass, Garcia, Giannakopoulos.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Turnbull; Hoyte, Wheater, Pogatetz, Taylor; Aliadière, Digard (Hines, 87), Arca, Downing; Alves, Tuncay. Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Emnes, Johnson, McMahon, Grounds, Walker.

Referee: S Tanner (Somerset).

Bookings: Hull Ashbee; Middlesbrough Tuncay.

Sent off: Middlesbrough Wheater.

Man of the match: Turner.

Attendance: 24,912.