Championship leaders Hull City were held 1-1 at Bristol City
Scot on target after City surprise
SHAUNMALONEY’S 73rdminute equaliser came as a huge relief admitted Steve Bruce.
The Hull boss had elected to leave out Uruguayan top scorer Abel Hernandez following the international break and saw his team fail to make the most of dominating possession.
Bristol capitalised to take a firsthalf lead through Kieran Agard. But when Bruce sent on Maloney as a 61st-minute replacement for Chuba Akpom, the Tigers finally found their teeth.
Twelve minutes later the substitute burst onto a Mohamed Diame flick following a long clearance from goalkeeper Allan McGregor and, with City wrongly appealing for offside, found the roof of the net with an emphatic finish.
Bruce admitted: “We decided to let Hernandez get a bit of extra sun on his back and if we had lost I would have left myself open.
“But he faces 16-hour flights back and forth to Uruguay and we hope that freshening him up will mean he is lively against Derby next week.”
Bruce had warned his highflyers to expect a tough battle against opponents he deemed to be in a false position. And Bristol didn’t disappoint.
The Hull boss added: “An away point is never bad, but I wasn’t happy with our first-half performance because we gave the ball away too cheaply and conceded too many free-kicks, which invited pressure. That is what led to their goal.
“I believe Bristol City will be comfortable in the Championship by the end of the season.
“I knew a Steve Cotterill team would be positive, but in the second half we were more like ourselves and played with a bit of purpose.
“I feel I’m talking like a cricket captain, but I was sorry we lost the toss and had to play with the sun in our faces in the first half because it was very difficult.”
Both teams had to contend with a swirling wind and lively pitch. Agard put Bristol in front on 39 minutes after Andrew Robertson brought down Elliott Bennett to concede one of the free-kicks that infuriated Bruce.
Luke Freeman’s inswinging cross caused havoc and Bristol appealed for handball before Agard pounced on the loose ball to net with a left-footed shot on the turn. It was the first Championship goal Hull had conceded in 551 minutes, but they responded well and might have been level by the break as Jake Livermore’s shot was brilliantly diverted over his own crossbar by Bennett before Maloney pounced.
Cotterill said: “Before the game I was tipping Hull for promotion and nothing I saw changed my mind. They have a great spirit about them at the moment, which combined with the quality of their players probably makes them an even better team than they were in the Premier League last season.
“We knew it would be a huge test for us and we came through it well. We scored against Hull, which no one had done for a while and stopped their winning run. While we didn’t deserve to win, we didn’t deserve to lose either. Both teams deserve credit because those conditions are the worst you can face as a player.
“Our goalkeeper didn’t have many saves to make, which was pleasing, and we can take a lot from the game going forward.”
Jonathan Kodjia wasted Bristol’s best early chance when volleying wide, but for most of the game the home side’s trump card was their committed defending.
Aden Flint was outstanding at the back for the hosts, a performance matched by Hull centre-back Harry Maguire in a match neither side deserved to lose.
A-OK: Bristol City’s Kieran Agard opens the scoring