BARNS­LEY..........2 Pro­mo­tion race goes to the wire

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Mcmath

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.

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