Deservedly defeated by Aston Villa, whose goalscorers Gabby Agbonlahor and James Milner were exceptional all evening, Hull were deeply disappointing, lacking in commitment and intelligence for long periods.
Related ArticlesDowie blasts Hull's lack of punchPearson attacks ex-Hull chairman Paul DuffenPremier League actionPremier League tableTelegraph player raterPremier League fixturesHull's supporters deserved better than this weak offering by the players and some negative tactics from Iain Dowie, who was treated to brief chants of "you don't know what you're doing'' on taking off Tom Cairney.
"You should have kept Phil Brown,'' chanted the Villa fans, also revelling in the sight of their team not giving up hope of fourth. West Ham, in 17th, will also have enjoyed Hull's travails.
Dowie's cautious game-plan had been shredded within 15 minutes, Villa's more adventurous approach rewarded through Agbonlahor's clinical finish past Matt Duke. If the goal encapsulated much of the young Villa forward's power and verve, it also highlighted the chaos in Hull's defence, a unit all Duke and hazards.
Here was defending as practised by Barnum and Bailey. Steven Mouyokolo's attempted headed clearance was shocking, the ball bouncing into Ashley Young and running into the box. Paul McShane's clearance clattered into John Carew and carried on to Agbonlahor.
The England striker, who was being watched by Stuart Pearce, could easily have rolled it back to Carew but chose to go it alone. Good decision.
Agbonlahor's finish was exceptional, two touches teeing the ball up before it was driven with a touch of bend past poor Duke. Agonlahor's goal took him to 16 for the season on a par with Carew.
Villa were in charge, building confidently through their 4-4-2 system with Young and the left-sided Stewart Downing stretching an initially anaemic Hull. James Milner raced up from the deep through the middle, superbly released by Downing's back-heel at one point.
Agbonlahor continued to muscle his way into the box. Carew, as usual, operated as a willing target-man: part-beacon, part-battering ram.
Hull were being swamped, their anxiety levels far higher than their tempo. Strangely, it took a bout of handbags between Craig Fagan and Stephen Warnock that shook Hull and their fans into life.
Whether or not Dowie spotted Fagan's hand-rubbing gesture, indicating a relish for the next 50-50 with Warnock, Hull's football management consultant sensibly moved Fagan up front alongside Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
Suddenly in 4-4-2 formation, Hull exuded more conviction and threat. Gone was the timid 4-5-1 style that seemed to have perturbed a few locals. Jimmy Bullard began getting on the ball more in central midfield, driving Hull on.
But even in an unpredictable season of beach-balls, volcanoes and administrators, Hull's failure to score midway through the half defied belief. Released by Kevin Kilbane, Vennegoor of Hesselink ran through one on one with Brad Friedel but was denied by the American.
Still Hull had a chance, the ball falling to Kilbane, whose shot was somehow saved by Friedel. Still Hull should have scored, the ball again rebounding back to Kilbane. With the whole goal at his mercy, Kilbane placed his effort directly at James Collins on the line. The ball bounced safely away, leaving Hull players and supporters alike shaking their in disbelief.
Villa appeared rattled, clearly knocked out of their earlier stride. Frustration ate away at Stiliyan Petrov, who caught Bullard with a nasty, late challenge from behind which drew a booking off Mike Dean.
With Bullard influential, Hull raced about chasing the equaliser. When Fagan flicked the ball on, Vennegoor of Hesselink was through on goal until Richard Dunne moved sharply to sweep up.
The pair then collided early in the second half, leaving Vennegoor of Hesselink spark out on the floor. After extensive treatment, he was carried away on a stretcher while Dunne had his head stitched but was able to continue. Jozy Altidore charged on for Hull.
Hull's defending remained a concern, notably when McShane gifted Carew a run at goal before Duke darted out smartly to clear. Still the danger simmered as the ball had fallen to Petrov 50 yards out with Duke out of his goal. Petrov has scored from this range before, but the Bulgarian's shot drifted wide.
Hull's fans wanted some fight from their players but Fagan took it too far, catching Young with a nasty challenge. Milner then withstood a legitimate challenge from Kilbane, although the England midfielder was able to continue.
Just after Duke had saved well from Agbonlahor, Dowie triggered mutinous sounds on the terraces by withdrawing the popular Tom Cairney.
The home fans' mood darkened further when Villa added their second. Carew charged impressively through the middle before slipping the ball right to Milner, who checked inside George Boateng and was promptly brought down.
Milner's cool penalty, bring his 11th goal of the season, provided another reason why England will take him to the World Cup.
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