Hull and Stoke City both took a share of the spoils in a 0-0 draw at the KC Stadium in a game both teams can be thankful for their respective goalkeepers.
Hull went into this fixture on the back of a 1-1 draw with Swansea City on Monday at the Liberty stadium, whilst Stoke were buoyed by their 3-2 victory over Chelsea last time out.
Steve Bruce was afforded the luxury of naming an unchanged team from their last outing whilst Mark Hughes made two changes to his starting eleven. In came Stephen Ireland and Oussama Assaidi with the latter rewarded for his dramatic winner last time out. Losing their places was Charlie Adam and Ex-Tigers player Jonathan Walters.
Hull City: McGregor – Figueroa – Bruce – Chester – Davies – Elmohamady – Meyler – Huddlestone – Livermore – Graham – Sagbo
Subs: Harper – Rosenior – Koren – Brady – McShane – Boyd – Faye
Stoke City: Begovic – Muniesa – Wilson – Shawcross – Cameron – Arnautovic – N’Zonzi – Ireland – Whelan – Assaidi – Crouch
Subs: Sorensen – Pieters – Pennant – Palacious – Jones – Adam – Wilkinson
Hull continued to be in the spotlight with the news this week that owner Assem Allam has written an official letter to the FA asking for the name to be changed to Hull Tigers from next season. This only galvanised the supporters and upon the teams emerging, chants of ‘City Till I Die’ rung around the ground along with the unveiling of banners against the name change.
This was a game both managers would have pinpointed as one where they could potentially collect all three points and a win for either side could see them rise to 10th in the table.
The first half chance of the game came in the 12th minute when Danny Graham, fresh from ending his 11-month goal drought, picked the ball up and fired a shot from 30 yards but his effort deflected wide for a corner-kick.
The resulting set-piece was cleared by the Stoke defence to Ahmed Elmohamady 25 yards out who produced a sublime dipping volley only for Asmir Begovic to pull off an equally superb acrobatic save.
Graham again had a chance when he weaved into the area after some neat footwork only for the striker to lose control of the final touch allowing Begovic to collect the danger.
Begovic, who was an injury doubt prior to kick-off, then denied Yannick Sagbo after great work from Elmo on the right flank saw him cut the ball back to the striker who feinted then fired a low shot which the Bosnia international turned around the post.
The 26th minute saw arguably the best chance of the half when Tom Huddlestone floated in a free-kick from the right seeing Curtis Davies rise highest only for his header to sail wide.
The visitors did have a sniff of a chance in the 39th minute after neat build-up play saw Arnautovic fizz in a cross which no Stoke player had gambled upon with the ball ending up going for a throw-in.
The teams went into break with the Tigers unlucky not to have been ahead if it wasn’t for the heroics of Begovic in the Stoke goal.
Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross had an early chance at the start of the second-half when a drilled corner was played into the box but the defender miscued his shot, before Marko Arnautovic failed to capitalise on a two-on-one breakaway with Oussama Assaidi.
Elmohamady came close to breaking the deadlock when Figueroa delivered a fine ball from the left which found the Egyptian back post but his header was somehow denied by Begovic when it seemed a goal would be the likely outcome.
Stephen Ireland thought he had got the opening goal in the 71st minute when Peter Crouch forced a brilliant low save by McGregor but the Scottish international could only palm the ball into the path of Ireland who fired home – his celebrations were cut short upon realised the offside flag had been raised.
Minutes later and Stoke again went close when Shawcross’ looping header cannoned back off the upright
Both sides brought on substitutes but neither side had any real chances to speak about and the game remained goalless.
In truth a draw was a fair reflection of the game with Hull shading the first-half in terms of chances with the visitors having the better of the second.
The Egyptian Focus
Ahmed Elmohamady had another fine game in the right-wing back role and if it wasn’t for the heroics of Asmir Begovic he would have scored a superb volley in the first-half. In the second he went close again with Begovic somehow saving his far post header. Elmo seems full of confidence at the minute and this is showing with his performances. Long may it continue!
Published on December 14 2013 for KingFut.