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HULL CITY MATCH REPORT: Tigers ‘outstanding’

Hull City 4 – 0 Bolton Wanderers (Friday, August 25th)

Beverley FM’s Mike Woodhall reports on a magic night of football at the KCom . . .

Bolton Manager Phil Parkinson couldn’t help but call Hull’s performance  “outstanding” as the Tigers dominated the game from start to finish. It was a rout which saw City display an electric, expansive, game which will be put the Championship’s slower defences on alert.

Hull came into the game off back-to-back defeats in the league against both Wolves then QPR and a mid-week exit in the League Cup at Doncaster. Manager Leonid Slutsky had declared a win was “vital” going into the international break and he set his team up in a 3-4-3 formation, perhaps inspired by his time at Chelsea last year, which saw Ondrej Mazuch and Adama Diomande come in to replace the injured Stewart Campbell and Abel Hernandez respectively.

There was a tension in the air over the formation, which had led to Hull’s downfall against QPR, but any fears were swiftly allayed by the speed and intensity Hull displayed,  exploiting space down the flanks. Bolton had not expected Tigers wingbacks Ola Aina and Max Clark to have so much freedom; at times there appeared to be a line of five attackers, forcing Bolton’s three centre backs into perilous one-v-one situations against the lightning quick attacking trio of Diomande, Bowen and Grosicki.

It was the latter who exploited the situation with relish, giving Bolton’s Reece Burke nightmares as he consistently beat him for pace. No wonder his Polish compatriots gave him the moniker of “Turbo-Grosicki”.

It was these situations which saw Hull’s utter domination and Grosicki grab two assists, the opener for Diomande and Bowen’s first of the night. He then managed to get on the score sheet himself with a fantastic solo effort to give Hull a 3-0l lead at the break.

Despite Bolton switching formation and personnel after the break, Hull were firmly in the driving seat and much like the first half were only occasionally pressured in their own box. Bolton were unable to sustain any attack for long before Michael Dawson, Michael Hector and Seb Larsson where able to rain down consistently accurate long balls into the space Hull’s wide men found, with Hull’s industrious young wingbacks able to overload the flanks and keep the pressure up.

Indeed, by minute 60 it seemed both sides were resigned to playing out the game,  happy to not overly commit men forward. The most notable moment came from the debut of £3 million former Arsenal man Jon Toral, replacing David Meyler, who received a thunderous applause for his efforts, stifling any attacking ambition Bolton had.

James Weir, also came on in the 84th minute to replace man of the match Grosicki, whom Slutsky later described as a player who can beat any team in the Championship when he wants to.

The final embers of the match, however, managed one last memorable  moment, as Bowen produced a fine finish from a brilliant Diomande through-ball to get his second goal of the night and fourth overall this season, getting ever further away from his original goal target as the season began of one. And McGregor, too, had produced a fine save to keep his first clean sheet of the season as Bolton managed to splutter up one last chance in the dying moments.

Hull will be delighted with a 4-0 win to see into the international break, with their next match a fortnight away against Derby County away. And home fans will have plenty to discuss as we enter the final days of the transfer window.