HULL BOSS BRUCE ‘GOT IT WRONG’
STEVE BRUCE was left to reflect on Hull’s worst defensive display of the season after two Jacob Butterfield goals saw Derby replace them at the top of the Championship on Friday night.
Without injured captain Michael Dawson and the suspended Andrew Robertson, Bruce was forced to reshuffle his defence and deployed Moses Odubajo in an unfamiliar role at left-back.
Marauding Rams right-back Cyrus Christie and winger Tom Ince – facing his former club – took advantage as the visitors regularly threatened on the break.
That was after a pair of first-half goals from Butterfield afforded Derby a strong platform and Hull boss Bruce admitted the damage was done early on in the evening.
“In the first 20-25 minutes we’ve probably made more mistakes defensively than we have all season and I think that was the difference,” he said.
“We’ve made big errors, given the ball away cheaply and I have to take responsibility too with the way I set us up to start with. Maybe it was too many changes with the absentees that we’ve had.
“Obviously it didn’t work and you have to admit that when you get beaten. I got it wrong, especially in the first 25 minutes.
“We’ve had a good run and congratulations to Derby, who are easily the best team we have seen here. They are the ones, at the moment, that we have got to beat.
“They caught us on the counterattack numerous times and we needed to take one of those chances to give ourselves a lift but it wasn’t our night.”
Derby caused plenty of early problems, with Christie thwarted by a defensive block and George Thorne denied by Allan McGregor inside the opening ten minutes.
They were ahead after 18, though, when Andreas Weimann saw a shot blocked and Butterfield – who began the day with two league goals to his name all season – capitalised to fire home from 12 yards.The 25-year-old doubled both his tally and Derby’s advantage shortly after the half-hour mark when Christie’s cross was half cleared to Butterfield, who volleyed beyond McGregor.
Hull mustered a response before the break and Scott Carson was forced to keep out both Tom Huddlestone and Abel Hernandez, while Shaun Maloney carved out an opening only to shoot wide in the second-half.
But there was no way back for the hosts, who took a 12-match unbeaten run on home soil into the clash, as Sam Clucas fired over the top from close range.
Ince could have made it three late on, curling wide of McGregor’s post, but Derby manager Paul Clement could afford to be pleased with an efficient display that saw them move to the Championship summit for the first time this season.
“We’ve come to a place that did have the best defensive record and scored twice against them, but also managed to keep a clean sheet against a very potent attacking side,” said Clement.
“The goals came at really good moments and that gave us that cushion and that ability to then make sure we were defending very resiliently and picking them off on counters.
“Our best football was in the first-half but overall the defending of the team was excellent.We were in shape nearly all the time, making it difficult for them to break us down.
“We would like to have more of the ball than the opposition but we have come to a very good side and some of their quick passing created some good chances.We didn’t have it all our own way and we had to really grind it out at times.”
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Jacob Butterfield scores his second goal for Derby