Fleetwood Town 4-1 Hull City: Saunders runs Tigers ragged as City's unbeaten run comes to an end
Above: Greg Docherty looks dejected after Fleetwood’s third goal on Friday night 
(Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Hull City’s 100% record was broken in some style by Fleetwood Town on Friday night as youngster Harvey Saunders was the star of the show. The home side ran out 4-1 winners and move up to seventh in the league as Saunders, Callum Camps and Sam Stubbs got on the scoresheet - George Honeyman scored what proved to be a consolation for Hull. 

  • Story of the match

After a frantic start, it didn’t take long for the expected physical element to the game that was expected from Fleetwood to arrive. Mallik Wilks was shoved off the ball and Callum Elder was on the receiving end of a late challenge from Saunders - certainly one that should have resulted in a yellow card. It was Wilks, however, who had the first shot after four minutes. Jayson Leutwiler in the Fleetwood goal was more than equal to the deflected shot.

On eight minutes, Keane Lewis-Potter took a superb Dan Batty pass that was made from 40 yards and curled it into the top corner. Unfortunately for the away side, the linesman’s flag went up for offside - a call that was tight to say the least. Fleetwood then came into the game with a couple of half chances - Ched Evans was very much involved in both - but the Hull City defence kept Joey Barton’s side at bay.

Hull almost went ahead on 14 minutes. Reece Burke’s scuffed effort hit the bar with the Fleetwood keeper stranded, but all the Tigers came out with was a corner kick that came to nothing. 

Hull City’s defensive line was then breached for the first time this season. Saunders drove forward on the right hand side before hitting a low shot beyond Matt Ingram. The Hull keeper got a hand to the effort but Fleetwood took the lead. The young winger has been in great form over the last two games - scoring a hat-trick in midweek against Aston Villa U21s - and proved why Barton put his trust in him.

Harrison Holgate was very lucky to not go into the referee’s book with an awful challenge on Hakeeb Adelakun soon after as Hull tried to get level straight away. Hull did draw level quickly, though. Lewis-Potter put Wilks through; and although his shot was saved, Honeyman was there to smash the ball home and restore parity. The Captain has flourished in the number ten role this season and scored his second goal of the season.

Just after the half hour mark, Saunders nearly had his second. Ingram pulled off a superb save to deny the Fleetwood youngster his second goal of the game. Elder then blocked another shot from Saunders on 34 minutes, and the majority of the threat for the home side was all coming through him. 

Fleetwood were trying their best to bring their physical side of their game to Hull and the grappling in the area from the home side’s corners would have been something that Tony PulisStoke City circa 2008 would have been proud of. The referee Ollie Yates was certainly been kept busy in the first half but there were no real chances for either side before the half-time whistle sounded.

Fleetwood took the lead after one minute in the second half. Honeyman’s mistake was pounced on by Saunders and he put Camps through to finish past Ingram. The Hull captain will have been distraught at his mistake having got Hull back level in the first half. Soon after Evans had a chance that could have made it 3-1, but he didn’t connect with the effort well enough. 

The swirling wind and rain were causing massive problems for both sides, with players losing their footing and playing loose balls throughout. Hull soon made a change with Thomas Mayer coming on for Batty, and a slight switch from Grant McCann saw Adelakun go more central.

With just over 20 minutes to go, Fleetwood went 3-1 up. It was Evans on the right hand side who fired it across for Saunders and he made no mistake from three yards out. Hull now had an awful lot to do if they were to avoid slumping to their first league defeat of the season. Saunders almost had his hat-trick but somehow Ingram kept the score at 3-1 with a double block. It was 4-1 on 73 minutes though as Stubbs headed in from a corner.

The game slowed down after that as Fleetwood took their foot off the gas somewhat. Jordy De Wijs should have scored for Hull late on as the away side tried to get back into the game, but it wasn’t to be. For all Hull’s excellent start to the season, they really struggled for the majority of the match and Fleetwood were worthy winners. The home side move up to seventh and Hull stay second for now - until the rest of the league games are played this weekend.

  • Takeaways from the match

Despite not conceding in their previous four league games, Hull went behind after 17 minutes and that set the tone for the game. The Tigers really struggled to get to grips with Fleetwood’s threat - especially in the second half - and Hull looked more like the team fans saw last season in their relegation from the Championship rather than a team that was joint top of League One.

Credit must be given to Barton’s side who came flying out of the traps in the second half and eased away from Hull City. Previous games in the league had seen good performances but no points on the board. However, it seems Fleetwood are starting to find their groove this season.

  • Stand-out players

Harvey Saunders was very much the danger-man for the home side and he certainly seems to be a player that is trying to force his way into Joey Barton’s plans. After two superb performances in the last couple of games, he was unplayable at times and made a Hull side that had their best start to a season in 95 years look very vulnerable. 

Grant McCann will be disappointed his side collapsed like they did second half, and this hasn’t been something we have seen from the Tigers in the league since the season has started. Now they have lost, though, he will be keen to keep Hull up at the top of the table as promotion will be an absolute expectation from those in East Yorkshire given their previous four games. 

  • Teams

Fleetwood Town: Leutwiler; Burns, Stubbs, Holgate, Andrew; Camps, Whelan, Coutts, Madden, Saunders; Evans. 

Substitutions: Duffy, Mackay, Cairns, Garner, Hill, Rydel, Matete.

Hull City: Ingram; Emmanuel, De Wijs, Burke, Elder; Batty, Docherty, Honeyman; Lewis-Potter, Adelakun, Wilks. 

Substitutions: Long, Coyle, Samuelsen, A Jones, Slater, Mayer, Chadwick.