Bowen is on song as Tigers get in tune for sur­vival


Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - Leon Wob­schall Email: leon.wob­ Twit­ter: @LeonWobYP


AGAINST op­po­nents whose fans’ playlist fea­tures a chant pay­ing homage to one of the Right­eous Brothers’ most fa­mous hits, Hull City proved that they have not lost that lov­ing feel­ing.

A pretty joy­less sound­track of a sea­son fre­quented by ac­ri­mony – and per­haps most wor­ry­ingly of all, ap­a­thy – re­quired a sweet Tigers’ tune and Satur­day’s sense of tim­ing was ex­quis­ite, es­pe­cially with a York­shire derby against Leeds United loom­ing large to­mor­row evening.

In­fa­mously, the league fix­ture against For­est in East York­shire in Novem­ber was marred by a disruption from sec­tions of irate Tigers sup­port­ers, who threw hun­dreds of balls onto the pitch to voice their on­go­ing dis­may to­wards the Al­lam fam­ily.

The only thing that shud­dered to a halt on Satur­day was Not­ting­ham For­est’s FA Cup band­wagon as those in am­ber and black en­joyed a rare af­ter­noon to savour by the Hum­ber.

Over 4,000 For­est fans – buoyed by the ar­rival of Ai­tor Karanka at the club – made the trek north and the East Mid­lan­ders, fresh from a stun­ning round three tri­umph over Cup hold­ers Ar­se­nal, could have eas­ily sold many more.

At­tract­ing Hull fol­low­ers was a harder sell and you sense that would have been the case even had tick­ets been dis­trib­uted free.

But the diehards were roy­ally re­warded. For those in at­ten­dance on a bit­ter af­ter­noon at Sun­der­land seven days ear­lier there was a dif­fer­ence in emo­tions, too.

Scan the Tigers’ squad list and it is in­escapable to avoid the con­clu­sion that, in terms of tal­ent alone, it is one that should not find it­self fight­ing to avoid a sec­ond suc­ces­sive rel­e­ga­tion.

Abil­ity alone does not guar­an­tee sur­vival. A vir­tu­oso show by Jar­rod Bowen, backed by a strong sup­port­ing cast, de­served bou­quets, but the hunger and fight shown by Hull was equally, if not more, im­por­tant.

It was a dis­play that was be­wil­der­ing as well as be­witch­ing, with the hosts’ qual­ity and spirit beg­ging the ques­tion as to why they have been toil­ing so painfully in the Cham­pi­onship.

It would be a crime to waste this dis­play in the com­ing weeks.

On the need for a much-re- quired team lift, cap­tain for the day David Mar­shall, af­forded some cup lime­light af­ter play­ing un­der­study to Al­lan McGre­gor in the league, said: “Def­i­nitely. I thought in the first half we were ex­cel­lent and the con­fi­dence was ob­vi­ously knocked be­fore be­cause it is hard los­ing games, es­pe­cially los­ing against a rel­e­ga­tion ri­val last week.

“Ev­ery­body is fit now and has got a point to prove and the lads were ex­cel­lent.

“For­est beat Ar­se­nal and they would have been look­ing at the game think­ing that if they could beat Ar­se­nal, they could go and beat any­body in com­pe­ti­tion. With the crowd they brought, with a full stand, there was an ex­pec­ta­tion for them. I thought we did re­ally well and han­dled the pres­sure and could have been three or four up at half-time.”

For Mar­shall, it was also a more note­wor­thy af­ter­noon than his pre­vi­ous home ap­pear­ance – he was in goal in Hull’s 7-1 loss to Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur last May.

On a tough sea­son on the side­lines, he added: “I am hat­ing it, to be to­tally hon­est, but I don’t think any­body is en­joy­ing with where we are. Ob­vi­ously, the club are not in a po­si­tion where they want to be in and we are want­ing to end that.

“Per­son­ally, you have got to look past your­self and fo­cus on get­ting us out of the dan­ger.”

Af­ter de­vour­ing run­away lead­ers Wolves in their own lair the ore­vi­ous week­end, For­est were mauled by a rav­en­ous pack of Tigers for sub­stan­tial parts of Satur­day.

Bowen, 21, op­er­at­ing in his favoured role on the right, de­servedly took much of the ac­claim and his stel­lar show will not have been lost upon sev­eral watch­ing Premier League scouts.

His fine lob fol­low­ing an un­holy mix-up de­served a goal, his ef­fort hit­ting a post with Jor­dan Smith stranded out of goal, but he was not to be de­nied.

Bowen soon saw his drive fly in off the cross­bar, af­ter de­flect­ing off Michael Man­ci­enne, for his 12th goal of a stand­out sea­son.

Bowen played a part in the hosts’ sec­ond, too, be­fore the break, show­ing a prodi­gious leap to rise above Daniel Fox to head Jack­son Irvine’s deep cross into the dan­ger area, with Nou- ha Dicko show­ing a striker’s in­stincts to get above Man­ci­enne and nod the ball in off a post.

Hull, who should have added a third through Adama Diomande, car­ried on where they left off in the sec­ond half, with more Bowen bril­liance set­ting up Dicko, de­nied by Smith, with the im­pres­sive Irvine also go­ing close.

At the other end, an ex­pertly taken free-kick from Kieran Dow­ell clipped a post and Mar­shall tipped over Joe Wor­rall’s header be­fore a faint touch from Ben Brereton saw For­est hit a post again.

A late strike from sub­sti­tute Apos­to­los Vel­lios, who con­verted Matty Cash’s fine cross, did pro­vide For­est with a life­line, but there was no fur­ther cruel twist for Hull. Not this time.

To­wards the end of what feels like the long­est month of all in Jan­uary, pay day ar­rived for Hull, led by Bowen, with the hope be­ing that he will be stay­ing put.

Mar­shall ob­served: “I don’t think there’s any rush for him at his age and I am sure he un­der- stands how im­por­tant it is this sea­son to get us out of the drop.

“I don’t think it would be the right time for him. Jan­uary is dif­fi­cult as well. He is a young lad scor­ing goals in the Cham­pi­onship and get­ting that ex­pe­ri­ence. I think it is per­fect for him at the minute. I am sure the re­wards will come later.”


DOU­BLE DE­LIGHT: Hull City’s Jar­rod Bowen gets his shot away to strike the tar­get, top, be­fore set­ting up the sec­ond goal for Nouha Dicko, left, against Not­ting­ham For­est much to the de­light of man­ager Nigel Ad­kins, right, at the KCom Sta­dium.

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