Hull City manager Nigel Adkins was disappointed with his side's performance in a decisive opening 35 minutes at the Stadium of Light this afternoon.
Sunderland came away with a precious three points against Adkins' side thanks to Joel Asoro's 20th minute opener, and the Tigers boss couldn't hide his frustration with his side's slow start.
Adkins says first-half was 'nowhere near good enough'
"Well we’ve not got the three points we needed against a team close to us in the division," said Adkins.
"I was concerned about how poor we were in the first 35 minutes, the warm-up was good, the mood in the dressing room was spot on and you get out there focused but for me we didn’t get anywhere near the one-on-one duels that you need to go and win to be competitive in a game of football for the first 35 minutes.
"I’ve had eight games now and that’s probably the worst 35 minutes of competitiveness in football that we’ve had since I was here, so I need to get to the bottom of that because it was nowhere near good enough.
"Second-half we’ve done far better and put the ball in the penalty area enough times, but we didn’t score the goal that we needed to do and it’s a bad loss in respect that we haven’t got the three points we needed."
The Tigers created chances in the second period but were ultimately unable to take them, coming closest in the latter stages of the game as Bryan Oviedo cleared Evandro's shot off the line before Robbin Ruiter made a point-blank save to deny former Black Cat David Meyler at the death.
"Obviously we changed it and we were far better in the second half," said Adkins.
"On another day we could have gone and scored some goals, Evandro’s rocket that Oviedo heads off the line for example so there’s oohs and aah but the fact of the matter is it’s about getting results.
The warm-up was probably the best warm-up we’ve had and the lads were up for it but it’s about what you do when you cross that white line to start the game, and for me we didn’t win enough one-on-one duels."
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Tigers facing tough times in the midst of barren run
Asoro's winner means Hull are now winless in their last seven league games and have failed to score in six of those, leaving them now level on points with the Black Cats and above the drop zone only on goal difference.
Adkins stressed: "I’m not hiding away from that."
"This is quickly after the game but we’ve analysed it and for me we’ve put the ball in the penalty area enough times that we’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net.
"It was great to see Will Keane coming on the pitch for the last 20 minutes, that’s a massive positive that we’ve got and as I said we’ve put the ball in the penalty area on many many occasions."
The defeat sees Hull in real danger of slipping into the relegation zone with only Sunderland, Birmingham City and Burton Albion below them in the Championship follwing today's result.
Adkins acknowledge his side's current predicament, saying: "The fact of the matter is that Hull City are in a relegation battle,"
"We’ve got to fight like mad to collectively get ourselves out of it and picking holes in each other at this moment in time is not the right time to do it.
"We’ve got to find solutions by grafting hard for each other, doing basics to an elite level and sticking together to get ourselves through this, then when we get through that period of time we’ll analyse it and say right make sure you don’t put yourselves in this situation again.
"We’re working now behind the scenes [on transfers].
"I’ve said from the beginning that we need to strengthen and enhance the group, it’s great as I say to have players coming back but we need it here and now so we’ve go to make sure our performances are bang on so we can give ourselves a chance to go and win games of football."