BOWEN SPOILS TERRY’S PARTY
OLD STAGER John Terry was upstaged by young gun Jarrod Bowen as Villa were made to pay for wasting a hatful of first-half chances.
Leading through Gabby Agbonlahor’s seventh-minute strike, Villa bossed the visitors for half-an-hour and created enough chances to win two games.
But having failed to twist the knife, Steve Bruce’s side ran out of gas and were forced to settle for a point when 20-year-old Bowen netted his first goal for the Tigers.
“It is no surprise Jarrod scored today,” said Leonid Slutsky, Hull’s eccentric new Russian boss.
“He was the best striker in all the pre-season matches and he really deserved this. To me, age is nothing. What is important are good players and bad players, and Jarrod is a very good player.”
Bruce, who signed Bowen for Hull in 2014, begrudgingly agreed. “I should have left him at Hereford,” he joked. “When we brought him in he was a youngster playing in a man’s league. He’s a terrific lad and he’s looking a pretty good buy for 50 grand now.”
If Bruce’s transfer nous was the inadvertent architect of Villa’s downfall, his side’s finishing was more directly culpable.
“If there is an Achilles heel since I’ve been here, that’s it,” said Bruce, who was facing Hull as a manager for the first time since leaving the Tigers a year ago. “We’ve had too many games where we’ve not taken our chances and been punished.
“You can’t play that well in big games – and Hull were in the Premier League last year – and fail to capitalise. We were close to blowing them away first half but we didn’t keep up our intensity.”
If Bruce’s departure ensured last summer was traumatic for Hull, this one has hardly been a cakewalk for Slutsky, despite the Russian describing his five-week stay as “a living fairytale”.
The loss of six first-team mainstays following relegation has lent the squad a tattered, waferthin appearance. A back four consisting of three debutants hinted at trouble to come and, within seven minutes, it had arrived in spades.
First Henri Lansbury went clean through, then Agbonlahor.
WHAT A GAS! Gabby Agbonlahor celebrates scoring Villa’s opener