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Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - MKM Stadium

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Matchday Musings: Both teams fail to capitalise on how bad the other was as SAFC draw at Hull

Really, the three points were for the taking - and fans of both Sunderland and Hull can probably feel frustrated by the fact their team couldn’t take advantage of how bad the other was.

Photo by Ian Hodgson/PA Images via Getty Images

Another game, and another packed full of incidents - though, that possibly masks just how bad the match was as a spectacle, with neither Sunderland or Hull able to take full advantage of how badly the other were playing.

This game felt like one we could and should possibly win - Hull’s home form is poor and our away form is good, and we had a number of our better players fit and available. Hull, on the other hand, were missing a few of their regulars and going off the comments of their fans on Twitter, they weren’t particularly happy with the team selection from Liam Rosenior.

I was a little surprised with Mowbray’s team selection given the performance last weekend - I’ve come to realise he’s very loyal to certain players and, regardless of how they’ve played, he likes to stick by them. Whilst a number of lads returned to the bench, and Alex Pritchard missed out through injury, there was no starting place for Patrick Roberts - someone Mowbray talked up as the most talented player in his squad early in his reign.

Clarke came in, with Rossco, Jewison Bennette and Dan Ballard amongst the substitutes, but the starting eleven was more of the same bar the one forced change in midfield.

Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

I was perplexed by the decision to start Dan Neil and Elliot Embleton as they’ve struggled to put a string of decent performances together for a while, but they partnered Corry Evans in midfield, with Clarke and Amad up top with Ellis Simms.

Hull’s team didn’t put the fear of god into anyone and having seen the two teamsheets, the first half was predictably dull - bar a half chance from Simms, we offered very little. Hull probably had more of the better opportunities but they were just dangerous crosses into the area that were dealt with well by the defence, and the only other real point of note was Danny Batth going off injured early in the half. We hope it’s nothing too serious, but he went down clutching his calf and that means he’ll need a scan before they know how bad things are. Luckily for us the return of Dan Ballard is well-timed, but it means we’ll be without a man who has probably been our player of the season so far for the foreseeable future.

I was hoping Mowbray might have taken a gamble at the break and made a couple of changes - as far as I could tell, the three points were up for grabs and a couple of positive substitutions might have given us some fresh impetus in the second half - but he predictably stuck with the Lads who had started the game.

And guess what... we started shite. Hull got a penalty after a foul in the box by Ballard (depending which angle of the replay you saw will determine if you think he got the ball first) and, luckily, Óscar Estupiñán put it wide.

Then came the next big moment in the game - a red card for Embleton, who lifted his foot high instead of heading the ball, pocketing a red card and injuring himself in the process.

Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - MKM Stadium Photo by Ian Hodgson/PA Images via Getty Images

Mowbray’s response was to make the three changes he probably should have made at the break, with Cirkin coming on for Alese, Stewart making his return in place of Simms, and Roberts coming on for Clarke.

Yet despite the changes, most of the irritations and problems from the first half of the game continued - we struggled to get the ball moving, to break down their defence, and perhaps most irritatingly of all, we struggled to stop crosses into the box.

But we persisted, and thankfully Hull didn’t want to capitalise on our misfortune, which led to our first real chance of the game - and a goal!

Patrick Roberts played a superb ball forward which put Ross Stewart through on goal, and with the keeper rushing towards him and presumably expecting a lobbed shot, Stewart stuck it under him and into the net to give Sunderland the lead - his first goal since his last game against Rotherham in August.

Hull responded well though, and got their equaliser through Tufan - nobody closed down the midfielder who stuck the ball into the area, and we were outnumbered at the far post at the Turkey international stuck it into Anthony Patterson’s net to make it 1-1.

In reaction to conceding the goal, Mowbray opted to bring off an attacker for a midfielder, with Abdoullah Ba replacing Amad for the final five minutes of normal time.

Nothing else of note occurred and we escaped Humberside with a point - and to be honest, if you had offered me one after we conceded a penalty and then went down to ten men I probably would have snapped your arm off for it.

There were a few positives - an assist for Roberts, a great goal for Ross Stewart, and almost a full game for Dan Ballard - but there were also negatives, and they’re largely the same issues that have plagued us for a while now.

We move on. We won’t remember this game come the end of the season, and it wasn’t the best performance we’ve had on the road, but a point away from home is not to be grumbled at and we’ve got to thank Hull for being as poor as we were.

My man of the match: I thought Luke O’Nien was great again. Considering he’s the least experienced centre half we have, he took control after Batth went off and defended brilliantly throughout. Another top performance from a lad who never lets us down.


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