Hull City and Crewe Alexandra played out a 0-0 draw at the KCOM Stadium that saw Hull City advance on penalties to the last 16 of the Papa John's EFL Trophy on Tuesday night.
Story of the match
As Crewe got the game underway, Hull City almost broke forward in the opening few seconds through Regan Slater and Tom Eaves, but the away side got back in numbers to get the ball to safety. Charlie Kirk had Crewe's first shot on three minutes that was deflected away for a corner, but Eaves was there to clear. A good flick on from James Scott and battling from Eaves saw Hull force their first corner on six minutes, but Crewe countered quickly and Lewie Coyle had to bring down Offrande Zanzala just outside the area to give the Tigers chance to get back.
Chris Porter's header was the closest either side came to scoring in the first ten minutes, with George Long making a point blank save to keep the scores at 0-0. Max Sheaf intercepted the ball outside the box soon after and fed Scott, but Dave Richards saved down to his left. As the 18 minute mark approach, both sides were seeing a fair bit of the ball but as Hull drove forward with Slater, Porter cynically pulled him down to earn the game's first caution.
It wasn't until the 27th minute that there was another chance on goal - and it came to the visitors. Oliver Finney's first time volley went just wide of Long's goal to give the home side a reminder of the threat that Crewe can possess going forward.
Mallik Wilks came on for Tom Eaves in what looked like an enforced change through injury on 36 minutes, with Wilks taking Eaves' place down the middle. Hull's best chance of the game came from a break by Slater, who put Mayer through. He pulled back for Greg Docherty, but his shot was blocked behind for a corner. Crewe forced a corner just before the break with Brandon Fleming putting the ball behind, and from a resulting break Mayer eventually forced a corner. Festus Arthur couldn't quite connect and the referee blew for half time with the game goalless.
As the second half kicked off, it didn't take long for Coyle to drive forward before being tripped by Perry Ng. However, nothing came of the resulting free kick and Arthur then gave a needless foul away to break the game up once again. Mayer and Wilks then had decent attempts to open the scoring, but both attempts were squandered after good work from Fleming originally down the left hand side.
Slater's free kick on 52 minutes caused some panic among the Crewe defence, before Docherty tested Richards. Good counter play saw Wilks fouled by Ng soon after and he was booked for his efforts, but was lucky it wasn't a second yellow as he had kicked the ball away ten minutes before without punishment. Arthur headed in the free kick, but was adjudged to be offside - a close call indeed and on another day the former Stockport County defender would have registered his first goal for the Tigers.
City were very much putting the pressure on as the hour mark approached, and forced a corner after good work from Mayer. There were shouts for handball from the resulting set piece, before Mayer flashed across the goal from an acute angle. Billy Chadwick replaced Mayer on 62 minutes with Grant McCann looking to change the front line slightly.
Hull should have had a penalty on 67 minutes when Scott was pulled down in the box, but the referee remained unmoved. Hakeeb Adelakun replaced Sheaf with Chadwick going into the middle behind Scott as McCann again tried to unlock the Crewe defence. Hull should have scored on 77 minutes when Docherty could have shot but passed to Coyle, who had his effort saved again by Richards. Hull won their eighth corner of the match with ten to go, but Fleming's ball went all the way over and out for a goal kick. Adelakun's effort with five minutes to go just skimmed the top of the net and it looked like it was going to be one of those days for Hull City, and the game finished goalless to go straight to penalties.
Crewe tucked away their first penalty before Docherty missed the home side's first kick. Crewe then blazed their next effort over the bar and their next one straight at Long, with Chadwick and Coyle scoring for the Tigers. Zanzala had his effort saved by Long and up stepped Wilks to win it, but his run up was stuttered and he missed. Ng then stepped up and needed to score, which he did with ease. With only one kick left, up stepped Adelakun to send the Tigers through to the last 16 of the competition.
Takeaways from the match
Hull frustrated by stubborn Crewe
After a first half that saw the home side perform below par, the second period brought pressure from the Tigers on the Crewe goal, but struggle to finish their chances. Mayer, Scott and Coyle were all guilty of missing decent chances and the more the game went on the more frustrated the players became. They ended up through to the last 16 on penalties, but will have to be better in the next round if they are to make a serious push for their first Wembley appearance since 2016.
Crewe's defense key
For all their chances, the home side struggled to break down Crewe's organized defense throughout. Their at times ultra defensive approach was not easy on the eye, but was very effective in stopping the Tigers breaking through their back line. Their chance on penalties was blown by some poor spot kicks as Alex will turn their attentions back to the league.
Both Regan Slater and Greg Docherty ran tirelessly in midfield, doing all they could to ensure the chances were created going forward. It just wasn't to be, however - with both sides drawing a blank, it seemed destined to go to penalties - and so it proved. Adelakun scored the crucuial spotkick to send the home side deservedly through in the end.
Hull City: Long; Coyle, Arthur, McLoughlin, Fleming; Slater, Sheaf, Samuelsen; Scott, Eaves, Mayer.
Substitutions: Ingram, Wilks, Adelakun, Greaves, Chadwick, Docherty, Leake.
Crewe Alexandra: Richards; Ng, Nolan, Sass-Davies, Johnson; Adebisi, Griffiths, Finney; Kirk, Porter, Zanzala.
Substitutions: Jaaskelainen, Dale, Lancashire, Lowery, Murphy, Pickering, Mandron.