Match report: Hull City 3 Ipswich Town 0 – Blues’ poor run of form continues

Chuba Akpom tucks away Hull's second goal just before half-time

Chuba Akpom tucks away Hull's second goal just before half-time

Ipswich Town’s miserable run of form continued with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Hull City tonight.

Mick McCarthy’s defensive game plan worked for the opening half an hour, but after ex-Town man Alex Bruce headed home in the 36th minute the Tigers stepped up a gear and added goals from Chuba Akpom (43) and David Meyler (58) before cruising to the finish.

The Blues have now claimed just six points from a possible 24 and have just one win to their name in their last nine outings in all competitions. Having been top of the table following a flying start to the season, the Suffolk side are now down to 11th and are five points adrift of the play-off places heading into Saturday’s game at Nottingham Forest.

It’s hard to see how Ipswich are going to get out of their current funk at present given the fact that they have now drawn a blank for three successive games and had just two shots on target tonight. McCarthy’s call for a ‘back to basics’ approach has limited his side in attack, but – last weekend’s goalless home draw with Huddersfield aside – the defensive frailties are still there. Left-back Jonas Knudsen looked particularly vulnerable this evening.

Blues boss McCarthy made five changes to his starting XI, switched to a 4-5-1 formation and was forced to name two youth team players on the bench as his injury problems continued to mount up.

Tommy Oar (concussion), Cole Skuse (ankle) and David McGoldrick (groin) were all enforced absentees, while Brett Pitman, Freddie Sears and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all dropped to the bench. That meant Larsen Toure, Giles Coke, Kevin Bru, Jonathan Parr and Daryl Murphy were all promoted to the team, with Josh Emmanuel and Adam McDonnell among the subs.

Hull manager Steve Bruce made three changes to his team, switching to a 4-4-2 system, following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.

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Town started the match on the front foot and Hull, not expecting the visitors to play with such intent, were forced into early fouls on Jonathan Douglas and Kevin Bru.

The Tigers did create the first good chance of the game in the 12th minute though, Akpom countering at pace following a cleared corner and Andy Robertson eventually firing well off target.

Town’s game plan of crowding the midfield was working though, with Douglas sitting the deepest and Coke looking neat and tidy in possession.

Lone striker Daryl Murphy was running his socks off and it was his clever back heel by the corner flag which released Luke Chambers, the Town skipper’s well-hit shot taking a deflection on its way into the near post side-netting.

Hull were forced to replace injured centre-back Curtis Davies with Bruce in the 18th minute. It didn’t take the former Town man long to go into the referee’s book for a typically agricultural tackle on Bru.

Coke arrowed the subsequent 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide, while at the other end keeper Dean Gerken, having initially hesitated, sprinted hell for leather off his line and just reached a through ball ahead of Abel Hernandez outside the area.

The Tigers began to up their game on the half an hour mark and gave the visitors a warning shot when Sam Clucas missed a golden opportunity, the ex-Chesterfield winger making a mess of his close-range effort after Ahmed Elmohamady had blazed past Knudsen before pulling the ball back.

Hull duly broke the deadlock in the 36th minute after Town were punished for a series of errors. Twice the Blues failed to properly clear a corner, the ball was returned upfield, Clucas dug a cross out from the byline and Bruce rose above Knudsen at the far post to send a looping header beyond Gerken and into the net.

Meyler sent a sweet volley from outside the area narrowly wide of the post in the 41st minute with Hull soon adding a killer second right at the end of the opening period.

Abel Hernandez was afforded far too much room in the final third, he slipped the ball right to marauding full-back Moses Odubajo and his low cross into the six-yard box was emphatically converted by Akpom.

McCarthy made a double change at the break, introducing Sears and Maitland-Niles for Coke and Parr. That meant a change back to a 4-4-2 formation, with Toure moving across to the left wing.

Arsenal loanee Akpom began to drift out to the right at every opportunity in order to give Knudsen a torrid time. In the 55th minute he got the better of Town’s left-back before whistling a fine long-range attempt just over the bar.

It seemed a matter of when, not if, Hull would add a third and that moment arrived in the 57th minute.

Clucas was afforded acres of room down the left to get his cross in and, after Knudsen did well to head clear, Meyler was there to expertly chest the ball and smash home a volley from the edge of the box in one fluid motion.

The Tigers smelt blood and, for the next few minutes, went for the jugular with attack after attack. Town were clearly wobbling, but somehow survived without suffering any further damage.

Steve Bruce’s men, knowing the job was done, took their foot off the gas after that and the game rather petered out.

Ipswich’s best chance of the game arrived in the final minute, Allan McGregor making a good save from sub Brett Pitman’s well-hit, low free-kick. It was too little too late, with many of the away fans having long headed for the exits.

HULL CITY (4-4-2): McGregor; Odubajo, Davies (Bruce 18), Dawson (cpt) (Maguire 80), Robertson; Clucas, Livermore, Meyler, Elmohamady; Akpom, Hernandez (Aluko 66).

Unused subs: Jakupovic, Huddlestone, Maloney, Diame.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-5-1): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Toure (Pitman 72), Coke (Maitland-Niles 46), Douglas, Bru, Parr (Sears 46); Murphy.

Unused subs: Bialkowski, Emmanuel, Malarczyk, McDonnell.

Attendance: 15,942 (456 away)

Referee: Mr C Kavanagh.

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