BRUCE WARNS: YOU CAN’T SELL MCCORMACK
HULL boss Steve Bruce says he fears for the future of struggling Fulham after seeing his Hull side go top of the Championship after snatching three points at Craven Cottage.
City’s organisation and hard work were rewarded with a late Abel Hernandez penalty that sealed a fourth straight league victory.
It was cruel on Fulham, who are 19th, but the absence of in-demand top scorer Ross McCormack loomed large over this performance as they failed to turn possession into goals.
And Bruce warns that the Cottagers must be careful in dealing with McCormack, who missed the defeat through illness after rumours this week linked the forward with Middlesbrough.
“McCormack is going to be a big decision,” he said. “They have to keep hold of him, he will be vital. I’d hate to see this club slip again, but it’s in a precarious situation.
“Dropping out of the Premier League is a big blow. Fulham probably haven’t recovered yet and that’s why they’ve had so many managers.”
“Resilience away from home is crucial. It’s not about playing nice football, Fulham played lovely stuff without having that real instinct.
“They had good possession, but we were always comfortable. We know we’re always capable of scoring.”
Fulham lacked dynamism, if not effort, in the final third.
Tom Cairney, keen to impress against his former club, passed and moved, but the final ball continually proved elusive.
It was obvious why Hull have the division’s secondbest defence, with their two banks of four proving tough to break down.
The first chance fell to Hernandez on 11 minutes as he ran clear of the home defence only for Andrew Lonergen to deny the City top scorer with a smart save low to his left.
Fulham’s best chance came when a Cairney shot was tipped away by Allan McGregor, but Moses Odubajo got to the loose ball in front of Alex Kacaniklic and cleared.
O’Hara then smashed a left-foot volley narrowly wide.
At the other end, Hernandez had a close-range shot blocked and Harry Maguire headed wide from a free-kick.
Cairney saw a free-kick go close and then laid a pass off to Scott Parker whose powerful shot swerved inches wide.
Fulham had a shout for a penalty when Moussa Dembele went down in the box, but the calls were halfhearted and waved away.Then, with ten minutes to go, Christensen stumbled into the back of Odubajo and referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot.
Though Lonergen got a hand to the ball, Hernandez slotted home his 15th league goal of the season.
And O’Hara had a free-kick bril- liantly tipped over in stoppage time by McGregor as Hull held out.
Fulham had two thirds of possession, but only two shots on target, and head coach Slavisa Jokanovic defended his style of play.
He said: “We didn’t create that many chances, but the game seemed to be heading for a draw.
“We made one mistake and lost the game. It’s not an easy situation for us. We showed some organisation, we have more balance than before. But they were more solid, stronger and faster than us.”
On in-demand McCormack he added: “Ross was sick yesterday and last week made only one training session.
“Physically, he is not ready to play. I don’t want to sell anybody and we don’t need to sell anyone.”
GROUP HUG: Hull City’s Abel Hernandez celebrates scoring their first goal STAR MAN TOM CAIRN