After one of the most uninspiring 90 minutes of their season, Hull City eventually limped through their last 32 match of the Papa John’s Trophy against Crewe Alexandra and await to find out their opponents in the last 16. The Tigers started slowly - with Crewe shading the first half - but gained some momentum in the second half.
However, Grant McCann’s side failed to score against David Artell’s men and a lacklustre penalty shoot out then followed, with Hull City managing to win the game 3-2 on penalties.
Here are five things we learned from the game on Tuesday night.
Hull fail to score in 90 minutes for the first time in three months
Hull City’s first competitive game of the season was against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup, and both sides struggled to find the net in a game that probably came to early into the pre-season schedule for the player’s performances to be judged too harshly. George Honeyman - playing against his boyhood club back on 5th September - showed very poor form, but the dynamic midfielder has been one of Hull City’s stand out players this season, contributing both goals and assists and being an ever present in the league.
Since that first game at the Stadium of Light, Hull have scored in every single game this season - even in those they haven’t won. That record was always going to be broken at some point, and although arguably Festus Arthur’s goal should have counted - replays suggest he may have been onside when he put the ball in the net in the second half - McCann will secretly be pleased that it was the EFL trophy that his side failed to score in, with a much changed side struggling to break down a stubborn Crewe defence.
City’s injury list is starting to grow
Martin Samuelsen was included in the starting line up for the Tigers in what should have been the game that gave him his chance to make an impression on his manager and claim a starting spot in the league. He pulled up with an injury before kick off, however - and McCann will be keeping a careful eye on an injury list that seems to be very quietly growing.
Dan Batty, Jordi de Wijs, Callum Jones, Alfie Jones and now Samuelsen make the deep squad that the Tigers previously had begin to look slightly thinner. Tom Eaves also went off with a mystery injury that turned out to be more of an illness, with the striker claiming to feel sick throughout the game before he was replaced by Mallik Wilks.
The Tigers’ Academy lads may have a big part to play as the season progress
There have been many positives to come out of this season for Hull City - none more so than the emergence of some serious talent from their youth ranks. Max Sheaf, Brandon Fleming, Festus Arthur, Billy Chadwick, Jake Leake and Ahmed Salam were all in the squad last night, with four of those getting a significant amount of minutes. That is before you even mention starlet Keane Lewis-Potter and young defender Jacob Greaves, who have both made the step up to first team regulars this season.
Lewis-Potter has been an ever present this season, scoring five goals in 11 appearances and even winning goal of the month for his remarkable effort against Swindon Town.
However, the form of Jacob Greaves has taken a few by surprise since he came into the squad back in October. Son of Tigers legend Mark, the young centre back has shown maturity beyond his years and become a firm fan’s favourite in a very short space of time. Credit must go to the Tigers Academy, as the new generation of Hull City Under 23 and Under 18 players are impressing in their respective leagues this season.
Crewe go ultra defensive
Crewe Alexandra were an extremely difficult team to break down back at the start of the season when it took a Mallik Wilks header only ten minutes from time to seal the win for the Tigers, and in many respects this was the same in their EFL trophy clash. However, Artell’s men were much more negative in their approach this time than back in October.
In the league game, they looked like scoring on several occasions - but it was not the case this time. They put ten men behind the ball for the majority of the second half and were perhaps fortunate that captain Perry Ng - about to start a six game ban for spitting at an opponent - was not sent off. He was booked for a cynical tackle in the second half, not long after he had deliberately kicked the ball away following a decision that went the Tigers way - which the referee ignored. It certainly looked as though they were playing for the 0-0 draw, and certainly did everything they could to slow the game down - much to Hull’s frustration.
Both sides struggled with their spot kicks
After a somewhat dull 90 minutes that Hull City should probably have won, the spot kicks that followed were perhaps even worse. Greg Docherty and Mallik Wilks were guilty of poor penalties for the Tigers, but Oliver Finney, Regan Griffiths and Offrande Zanala missed for the away side to see only half the amount of penalties taken actually scored. The prestige of the Papa John’s Trophy may not be particularly high in these early rounds, as City’s winning celebrations were slightly muted to say the least - but both managers will want vast improvements from their respective sides as they turn back to League One action this Saturday.