It wasn’t necessarily going to end up this way. Virtually the first opening of the game saw Danny Collins afforded a free header from a set piece, he should have done far more than glance it wide. Joel Ekstrand was asleep as a ball from the right reached Sharp at the far post, he shanked clumsily past the post. Simon Cox snuck in behind a static defence at another set piece… everyone froze in confusion, including Cox who screwed a header back across the face of goal. Hoban and Ekstrand both looked uncomfortable and slightly precarious to the point that we briefly glanced at the bench (and remembered that Neuton was hardly an option to bring on to tighten things up again and rapidly returned our attention to the pitch). That’s not to say that Forest were ever on top of us – for the 90 minutes we were never less than holding our own – but we rode our luck early on, mobile front men Cox and Sharp both looking like causing us problems whenever they received the ball to feet.
If we’re being as demanding of ourselves as we ought to be, then we should conclude that we were sloppy and complacent for much of the game against Barnsley…and that we got away with it because our opponents weren’t good enough to take advantage. None of that here: Hull set themselves out to stick a spanner into every single one of our stock passing moves, while remaining patient and watchful and quietly potent when possession came their way. They were far too much for us, and that made for a fascinating tussle between what we are and what we might yet be, a revealing insight into how close we are to being the finished article.
Deeney headed in after just 10 minutes, and after midfielder Mark Yeates had produced a slide-rule finish from a tight angle just before the hour mark, Deeney struck again seven minutes later to take his season’s goal tally to eight.