TIGERS FEEL THE HEAT AS TYKES FIND THEIR FORM
BARNSLEY..........2 Promotion race goes to the wire
HAVING served under Sir Alex Ferguson for all those years, Steve Bruce knows all about squeaky-bum time.
But Bruce’s Hull City boys are not coping well with the pressure brought by the business end of the campaign.
A fortnight ago, the Tigers were six points clear of thirdplaced Watford and Premier League promotion looked all but certain.
Now, after a run of one point in three games in which they have failed to score, an anxious final day of the season beckons.
Defeat by battling Barnsley, scrapping like mad for their lives, means both these teams have something to play for on the final day of the season – though Hull would rather it had been a dead rubber.
They host champions Cardiff, needing to match Watford’s result to seal second spot.
Boss Bruce said: “You can’t just blame nerves. The truth is, we were well short of what was required to beat a good Barnsley team. You have to say the best team won.
“We’re hugely disappointed because we’ve had a huge number of travelling fans (5,909) and we’ve given them nothing to shout about.
“It’s still in our hands. What gives me confidence is that we’ve been beaten before and responded well.
“We’ve got a big week ahead of us, with a big game against Cardiff on Saturday.”
Barnsley earned their victory with goals from Jacob Mellis and Chris O’Grady and a performance of ferocious desire.
Manager David Flitcroft said: “It was a special day. Everyone was talking about Hull and how they would celebrate going to the Premier League.
“But we focused on our jobs, we stuck to the plan and every single one of our players carried out their job to a tee.
“It's massive. If we turn up next weekend with that energy we’re going to be a match for anyone in this division and that’s what we’ve certainly showed since I took the job. In a lot of people’s minds the season was over against Charlton. Here, the quality was on show and the courage, the bravery they’ve displayed.”
The hosts set about disrupting the usually tidy Tigers’ rhythm, closing down incessantly and breaking with purpose. The opening goal, in the fourth minute, only served to fuel the Reds’ enthusiasm.