Potters add to Tigers' nerves

09 May 2009 02:00
Hull City slipped deeper into the Premier League relegation mire following a 2-1 defeat to Stoke City at the KC Stadium.

The Tigers welcomed their fellow strugglers to East Yorkshire having nervously won only two top-flight games since the end of last October, and goals from Ricardo Fuller and Liam Lawrence ensured that statistic did not change and made Stoke safe.

Phil Brown's side, who sat three points off the relegation zone ahead of kick-off, knew that another defeat would give bottom-three occupants Newcastle and Middlesbrough significant motivation ahead of Monday's Tyne-Tees derby.

And that fear factor was evident from the start in a match billed as one of the biggest in Hull's history as the home side attempted to force the issue against the Potters, who had previously recorded only seven points on their travels.

But Brown's men lacked a cutting edge and on 41 minutes they were made to pay as striker Fuller was offered time and space to turn and convert a scrappy Lawrence corner at the near post.

Hull dominated territorially after the break, however, the absence of a 'Plan B' was again evident, and was duly punished on 73 minutes as Lawrence rifled a spectacular second to seal the win, despite an injury-time Andy Dawson consolation from a free-kick .

Both sides showed plenty of early determination and chances came at either end in the opening 10 minutes.

Matthew Etherington created the first opportunity for Stoke but drilled a low shot wide and a menacing cross from Lawrence was scrambled clear by Sam Ricketts.

ControlRicketts then broke clear for Hull down the right but was fouled by Etherington, who was booked for the challenge, and Dawson wasted the free-kick.

Thomas Sorensen was the first goalkeeper tested when he palmed over a Daniel Cousin header after Craig Fagan won the ball on the right.

Richard Garcia then showed great control in the Stoke box to create a shooting chance but Sorensen clung on.

Lawrence responded with an ambitious attempt from wide on the right which Boaz Myhill felt was sailing well over, but it dipped and only just cleared the bar.

Hull's supporters then appealed for a penalty after Nick Barmby went down under a Ryan Shawcross challenge as George Boateng crossed but the players themselves seemed unconcerned.

Stoke finished the first half strongly and snatched the lead after Lawrence, afforded too much space by Hull, had a shot deflected for a corner by Kamil Zayatte.

Lawrence's cross from the resulting set-piece caused chaos and Zayatte and Boateng both ended up on the ground in the ensuing scramble.

The ball kindly broke to Fuller and the striker made no mistake as he turned and fired past Myhill from close range with 40 minutes gone.

BrightHull at least started the second half brightly with Kevin Kilbane's mishit shot still bringing a good save out of Sorensen.

Glenn Whelan went close to adding a second for Stoke with a dipping half-volley from the edge of the box which just dropped over the bar.

Hull needed to rouse themselves and Garcia forced Sorensen to save with a firm header from a Barmby cross.

Garcia then won a free-kick when he was brought down on the edge of the area by Andy Wilkinson but Dawson blasted wide.

With a replica of his earlier effort, Whelan then went even closer just after the hour with a well-controlled shot which crashed against the inside of the post.

Hull, having moments earlier brought on Manucho and Bernard Mendy in a double attacking change, were forced into a third when Zayatte went off injured.

The defender, already bandaged with a head wound, needed lengthy treatment after a further blow and Brown attempted to lift his side by boldly replacing him with Geovanni.

It did not pay off as Lawrence doubled Stoke's lead with his stunning strike.

Again afforded far too much space on the right, Lawrence took a Fuller pass in his stride and unleashed a fierce shot which gave Myhill no chance.

Hull heads dropped and they struggled to find a way through a resolute Stoke defence.

Barmby did get one opportunity when he headed narrowly wide from a Ricketts cross but time ran out for the Tigers.

Dawson netted belatedly with a curling free-kick as the game entered six minutes of injury time but it was too little too late.

Hull created one last chance and Geovanni thought his shot had been deflected for a corner but Webb did not agree.

With a trip to Bolton and a home clash with Manchester United remaining, Hull's position is looking precarious.

Hull City

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Stoke City





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Source: SKY_Sports