Bruce bewildered by tame Tigers
STEVE Bruce was left rueing a slow start as promotion-chasing Hull City were held to a draw at home by lowly MK Dons.
Antony Kay’s header powered the visitors in front after the break before Sam Clucas’ wonderful freekick gave City a share of the spoils at the KC Stadium.
And while coming from behind to earn a point is never a bad thing, Bruce admitted he was struggling for answers as to his side’s poor first 45 minutes.
“We are hugely frustrated but we didn’t play anywhere near like we should be playing,” he said.
“We kept giving the ball away in bad areas, which is obviously disappointing.
“At the end of the day I pick the team and I am left scratching my head as to why we functioned like we did – especially in the first half.
“If our attitude was the same in the first half as it was in the second, I think we win that match. We are kicking ourselves but it is still all to play for.
“We have to dust ourselves down and go again because it’s a big week ahead for us.”
MK Dons looked bright in possession during the early stages before City fashioned the first genuine opportunity after 19 minutes.
The lively Ahmed Elmohamady cut inside from the right and his low cross-cum-shot was deflected inches wide of the far post.
The Tigers almost took the lead again on 32 minutes. A long ball by Andy Robertson sent Curtis Davies through but the centre-half could only blaze over on the half-volley. The game burst into life after the break. From a Josh Murphy corner, Kay broke the deadlock on 51 minutes.
But hold on to a crucial lead MK Dons could not. Two minutes later and Clucas executed a quite-brilliant free-kick to draw the home side level.
Abel Hernandez then squirmed his way through but was denied by a last-ditch tackle by Kay. And soon after, Chuba Akpom headed horribly over the bar following impressive work by Mo Diame on the left.
It was all Hull at this stage and chances were coming thick and fast. Clucas’ sweet left foot was becoming more and more influential – his long range half-volley forcing David Martin into a diving save on 69 minutes.
Shortly after that the visiting keeper fell awkwardly while striking a goal kick and had to be replaced by Cody Cropper.
Bruce went all out for the win late on – playing four strikers up top. But try as they might, MK Dons hung on to an invaluable point and boss Karl Robinson delivered a warning shot to anyone who thinks they will be a soft touch in an intensifying relegation scrap.
“I have seen a lot written in the media recently about Premier League clubs getting relegated and then not looking forward to going to little MK Dons on a Tuesday night,” said Robinson.
“Let’s get it right, we don’t have a horrible stadium and we are not little MK Dons. So it’s fair to say my team talks have been written for me.
“I use stuff like that to motivate my players and they were superb.
“I am very proud of our performance. We dominated to start with but then we came up against one of the best teams in the division.
“They have so much pace and power and for me, they are the best.
“My players worked so hard and, without using the word they did in the dressing room, it’s fair to say they are knackered.”