Leeds re­turn to Cham­pi­onship sum­mit af­ter come­back win at Wi­gan

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - Richard Sutcliffe AT KCOM STA­DIUM Email: Twit­ter: @RSootyYPS­port

NO ONE quite ex­udes pos­i­tiv­ity like Hull City man­ager Nigel Ad­kins.

His glass is al­ways half-full, never half-empty, and not even the var­i­ous tra­vails that have be­fallen Hull dur­ing his 11 months at the helm have got the 53-yearold down.

In that re­spect, Ad­kins has been pretty much on his own in the East Rid­ing with even those who still make the fort­nightly pil­grim­age to sup­port the Tigers at the KCOM Sta­dium giv­ing the im­pres­sion they do so more from habit than any be­lief bet­ter times lay ahead.

Sug­gest to those fans who have seen Premier League foot­ball morph into two suc­ces­sive fights against rel­e­ga­tion from the sec­ond tier that there is light at the end of the tun­nel and chances are there will be mut­ter­ings about said light more likely to be a train head­ing straight for their club.

Maybe, though, things are about to change. Back-to-back wins, to­gether with two clean sheets, have not been enough to lift Hull out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

But the up­turn in per­for­mances since the last in­ter­na­tional break that cul­mi­nated in this richly-de­served tri­umph over pro­mo­tion-chas­ing West Bromwich Al­bion points to some­thing pos­i­tive fi­nally be­gin­ning to stir on the north bank of the Hum­ber.

Cen­tral to this change of mood is the takeover that The York­shire Post un­der­stands could be con­cluded as early as the end of this month.

Three bid­ders have been in dis­cus­sions with the Al­lam fam­ily, but the Saudi con­sor­tium fronted by for­mer chair­man Paul Duf­fen is lead­ing the way.

Work still has to be done be­fore a buy­out can be com­pleted, with a re­port last week sug­gest­ing the Al­lams had al­ready said their good­byes to staff at the KCOM be­ing wide of the mark.

Nev­er­the­less, sources in­sist the orig­i­nal timetable for the Al­lams to be out well be­fore what would be their eighth an­niver­sary of tak­ing charge on De­cem­ber 16 re­mains the tar­get.

Pro­vid­ing no late hitches scup­per a deal the ten­ta­tive feel­good fac­tor gen­er­ated by these re­cent wins will surely go into over­drive.

Reece Burke, one of those in am­ber and black who played a key role in blunt­ing the Cham­pi­onship’s most free-scor­ing at­tack on Satur­day, said: “We are buzzing to have got the three points.

“As a team we have al­ways re­mained pos­i­tive. Nigel does a great job at keep­ing us pos­i­tive.

“It is not nice los­ing games. It knocks con­fi­dence, but as a man­ager he makes sure we look for­ward. The more you think about the past the more it will re­late to the fu­ture.

“Watch­ing us lose can also be hard to take for the fans. But hope­fully we can now keep this run go­ing and keep things pos­i­tive. Our per­for­mances have been get­ting bet­ter and we are start­ing to get more like a team. We will climb up the ta­ble.”

Hull hit rock bot­tom a month ago, a 1-0 de­feat at Sh­effield United on Oc­to­ber 6 leav­ing the club prop­ping up the ta­ble.

Not since 2006 had the Tigers sunk so low. The re­sponse, how­ever, has been ad­mirable.

But for con­ced­ing stop­page­time goals against Pre­ston North End and Bris­tol City the Tigers would have es­caped the rel­e­ga­tion zone even be­fore the back-to­back wins over Bolton Wan­der­ers and West Brom.

As it is Ad­kins’s men re­main sec­ond bot­tom, but if next Satur­day’s trip to Birm­ing­ham City yields just a point then chances are the No­vem­ber in­ter­na­tional break will be spent look­ing down on at least three of their Cham­pi­onship peers.

Hull will cer­tainly head to St An­drews with a re­newed sense of be­lief fol­low­ing a hugely im­pres­sive dis­play against Dar­ren Moore’s Bag­gies.

De­fen­sively the hosts were out­stand­ing with Tommy El­ph­ick a tower of strength against an at­tack that had plun­dered 33 goals be­fore head­ing to East York­shire.

Jordy de Wijs also per­son­i­fied the thou-shalt-not-pass men­tal­ity that gave goal­keeper David Mar­shall surely his qui­etest af­ter­noon of the sea­son, while Burke, slot­ting in at right-back, en­sured Har­vey Barnes was un­able to bring his usual at­tack­ing swag­ger to pro­ceed­ings.

The for­mer Barns­ley loa­nee had net­ted a dra­matic late equaliser for Al­bion on their only pre­vi­ous visit to York­shire this cam­paign, last month’s 2-2 draw with Sh­effield Wed­nes­day.

But the best Moore’s men could muster against the dis­ci­plined hosts at the KCOM was an Ahmed Hegazi header that Eric Lichaj had lit­tle prob­lem clear­ing off the line and a stop­page-time flick from the same Al­bion de­fender that landed safely in Mar­shall’s gloves.

Oth­er­wise, all the at­tack­ing mo­ments of note be­longed to Hull. Jar­rod Bowen saw an early header from a Kamil Grosicki cross turned on to the cross­bar by Sam John­stone be­fore Hull’s Pol­ish wide­man twice shot waste­fully over when well placed.

Hull struck the cross­bar again six min­utes be­fore the break through Jack­son Irvine, but this time Fraizer Camp­bell was on hand to smash the re­bound into the net and se­cure a pre­cious three points.


THAT’S MINE: Hull City’s Tommy El­ph­ick wins a header de­spite a chal­lenge from West Bromwich Al­bion’s Jay Ro­driguez. In­set, Fraizer Camp­bell cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing what proved to be the only goal of the game at KCCOM Sta­dium on Satur­day

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