Late winner keeps Hull’s faint automatic promotion hopes alive

20 Apr

Hull’s hopes of earning automatic promotion from the Sky Bet Championship remain alive after a scrappy 2-1 victory at Reading.


Reading: Late winner keeps Hull's faint automatic promotion hopes aliveReading: Late winner keeps Hull's faint automatic promotion hopes alive

The struggling home side went in front early on when defender Jake Cooper nodded in powerfully from an Oliver Norwood free-kick.

But Hull were level at half-time through leading scorer Abel Hernandez and grabbed the winner 11 minutes from the end when defender Andy Robertson drilled in a low cross-shot.

Hull had sat top of the Championship in February but a run of only two wins in nine matches had seen them slip down the table.

The second victory came last Friday, when they won 2-1 at home to Wolves courtesy of a 93rd-minute own goal from visiting keeper Carl Ikeme.

Reading had lost three games in a row to Birmingham, Middlesbrough and Leeds United ahead of their meeting with Hull.

Reading made a sound start but Simon Cox took too long over a shot and was crowded out.

The home side were soon ahead though in the fourth minute.

Norwood slung over a free-kick from the left flank and centre back Cooper rose alone to plant a crisp header past goalkeeper Allan McGregor for his second goal of the season.

Hull responded positively, with Hernandez and David Meyler going close, and the equaliser arrived in the 18th minute.

Tom Huddlestone released Hernandez and, with home defender Anton Ferdinand trailing in his wake and keeper Ali Al Habsi stationary, the Uruguay striker tucked in the ball with ease.

It was Hernandez’s 19th goal of the season but only second in his past 12 matches.

Al Habsi did better when tipping over a fierce 25-yard drive from Huddlestone and McGregor also did well to keep out a low, skidding attempt from Norwood.

A tame start to the second half did little to enthuse the crowd of 12,949, Reading’s lowest in the Championship this season.

Robert Snodgrass tried to liven things up for the 504 Hull fans but his cross to the far post carried too much weight for Meyler to reach.

Reading thought they had won a penalty in the 58th minute when referee Fred Graham pointed to the spot after Harry Maguire appeared to have fouled Deniss Rakels near the byline.

But Graham was persuaded to consult an assistant by the angry Hull players and, on advice, he changed his mind and awarded a corner.

It roused Reading, who seemed to feel a sense of injustice, but they could not make their pressure tell.

Hull gradually regained their composure and, after Al Habsi had saved from Hernandez, Robertson popped up from left-back to fire home the winner and inflict a fourth successive defeat on Reading.

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