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City hold on to win first home game of the season

Beverley FM’s Hull City reporter MIKE TRY reports from the KCom . . .

Hull City came out 2-1 victors against Reading in their first home game of the season today (Saturday August 10), but being unable to stretch a good first half performance into a full 90 will have left manager Grant McCann with work to do going forward.

City lined up in a 4-4-3, with new signing Tom Eaves making his first start and spearheading the attack – Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki either flank beside him.

Grosicki and Bowen immediately picked up where they left off last season, combining well with Jackson Irvine and Eaves to force Reading on to the back foot and piling pressure on the visitors.

With only four minutes on the clock City were ahead. A good combination between Irvine and Grosicki found the winger in the box, dancing and twisting past Reading’s helpless centre-back before unleashing a powerful shot at the near post.

A poor clearance by Reading Keeper Joao Virginia gave Bowen a chance to pounce and score his first of the season.

City went further ahead at the 17-minute mark and it was only a just reward for their early attacking onslaught. A fine pass from Daniel Batty found Bowen in space on the right, who then cut in to create enough space to pick out the marauding run of Irvine and cross for the Australian to head home. 

So, 2-0- to the Tigers at half time and perhaps it could, and should, have been more, such was their dominance in the first 45.

But for the second week running and, inexplicably, they went off the boil in the second period and they almost lived to regret not having punished Reading further.

It was a resurgent Royals who were laying siege to the City defence for most the second half – Reading had switched to a diamond in midfield along with introducing new signing, £7million Inter Milan striker George Pușcaș.

Hull struggled to adapt and attempts to play through the centre broke down, with City’s strikers ultimately isolated.

The opening minutes of the second half were tense and on 52 minutes George Long was lucky not to give away a penalty when the visitors’ Meite went down.

And minutes later Reading narrowly missed an opportunity to convert a wicked cross . . . with Stephen Kingsley doing just enough to stop Meite converting.

On 65 minutes Reading finally got the goal their efforts deserved. A switch of play found Lucas João in space, he cut inside Kingsley and buried his shot past Long.

For the reminder of the match City were fighting a rearguard action. Reading kept the pressure up and George Long needed a good performance in goal to keep the game at 2-1.

Sunstiutions saw the introduction of Jon Toral for Batty, Nouha Dicko for Tom Eaves and Grosicki making way for the debut of George Honeyman. Though none had a major impact on the game, it was good to see Honeyman’s hard work across the left flank, supporting Kingsley and providing options forward.

Toral, too, was played centrally, a rarity under Adkins, who preferred him out wide, and he gave some good indications that McCann could trust him as an option there.

Full-time was a relief in the end and manager McCann will be working hard between now and the next league game against Brentford away (a League cup tie against Tranmere also beckons midweek) to turn a great opening half into a full game of high energy, attacking football. 

Hull City: George Long; Eric Lichaj, Reece Burke, Jordy de Wijs, Stephen Kingsley; Daniel Batty (Jon Toral 68), Kevin Stewart, Jackson Irvine; Jarrod Bowen, Kamil Grosicki (George Honeyman 78), Tom Eaves (Nouha Dicko 68).

Subs Not Used: Matt Ingram, Ryan Tafazolli, Josh Bowler, Matthew Pennington.

Reading: Joao Virginia, Matt Miazga, Liam Moore, Andy Rinomhota, John Swift, Andy Yiadom (Michael Morrison 90), Lucas Boye (George Puscas 46), Yakou Meite, Omar Richards, Judilson Gomes (Charlie Adam 68), Lucas Joao.

Subs Not Used: Sam Walker, Tom McIntyre, Michael Olise, Josh Barrett.

Referee: Mr M. Donohue.

Attendance: 10,673.