Meet Town’s opposition: bogey side Hull are bang in form but could be toppled
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Football writer Carl Marston casts his eye over league leaders Hull City, who are today’s visitors to Portman Road
Rejuvenated Hull City, relegated as basement dwellers of the Championship last season, began this term with a bang and are entering tonight’s clash with Ipswich Town in top form.
In fact the Tigers are roaring again, after mustering a mere 12 league wins all season in 2019-20.
Grant McCann’s men made an immediate statement, in the third tier, by winning their first four league games of this season, and they arrive at Portman Road this evening on the back of a so-far perfect November record of five wins from five matches.
The Humberside club leapfrogged previous leaders Peterborough United into top spot, following their 3-1 win at MK Dons on Saturday combined with Posh’s surprise 2-1 home defeat at the hands of lower mid-table Blackpool.
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And they will be confident of making it six from six against Town who, although 2-1 winners over Shrewsbury Town over the weekend, were far from convincing. Paul Lambert’s side are just two points and two places behind the table-topping Tigers.
History is also against Town – they have not won any of their last 13 meetings with Hull, losing 10 and drawing the other three.
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Town’s last win over Hull was on the last day of the 2007-08 season, when Alan Lee netted in a 1-0 victory for Jim Magilton’s men on May 4, 2008.
WORDS FROM THE BOSS
Grant McCann, appointed Hull manager in late June of last year, is looking to make amends for the club’s relegation by plotting an immediate return to the Championship.
And he is anticipating a cracking game tonight.
“This will be another good game for us,” explained McCann.
“Ipswich are flying high in the league also. It is going to be a tough week for us.
“It is a big week and we have started it quite well (win at MK Dons), so let’s see if we can follow it up at Ipswich,” aded McCann, whose side end the month with an FA Cup second round tie at Stevenage.
THE STORY SO FAR
Hull kicked off the season with four straight league wins, away at Gillingham (2-0) and Northampton (2-0), and at home to Crewe (1-0) and Plymouth (1-0).
They stumbled a little last month, suffering three defeats, two on the road at Swindon (2-1) and Fleetwood Town (4-1), sandwiching a 2-1 home defeat to fellow high-fliers Peterborough.
But this month, in addition to EFL Trophy victories over Grimsby and Harrogate Town, and an FA Cup win at Fleetwood, they have seen off Burton Albion (2-0) and MK Dons in the league.
BANGING IN THE GOALS
Hull have been scoring goals for fun, netting 12 in their last five fixtures and boasting three players who have already scored five goals or more.
Mallik Wilks leads the way with seven goals from 14 outings. The 21-year-old originally arrived on loan from Barnsley at the start of the year, but made that move permanent over the summer.
Josh Magennis, a Northern Ireland international, boosted his tally to five goals with an early brace in the win at MK Dons last weekend, while Keane Lewis-Potter is also on five goals.
Lewis-Potter, 19, was the EFL League One player of the month for September, but has sat out recent games due to Covid-19 rules over self-isolation.
McCann enthused: “The form of the front players is really good and hopefully that can continue because that is going to be key for us this season.”
Hull’s impressive win at MK Dons was achieved without the duo of Greg Docherty and Lewis-Potter.
Midfielder Docherty, recruited from Rangers on a three-year deal in August, should be in tonight’s squad after recovering from a thigh injury.
Front-runner Lewis-Potter is also available again, after returning to training after his Covid-19 self-isolation. However, having missed the last four games, the best he can really hope for is a place on the bench, despite his red-hot form this season.
“Everyone’s good,” confirmed McCann, ahead of the game.
“People are in good form now, they’re in good form up there (in attack) and that’s the competition for places that we’ve got.
“People have to fight and earn a place in it.”
September was a busy month for new arrivals at Hull.
Midfielder Regan Slater was signed on a season long loan from Sheffield United, while winger Hakeeb Adelakun also arrived on loan, from Bristol City. Adelakun started at MK Dons, while Slater was employed as a substitute.
Experienced central midfielder Richard Smallwood, signed from Blackburn Rovers in August, is the club skipper.